Wed 9th Sep 2015
Sept 15: Business community becoming frustrated at political stand off
Stephen McCully, President, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry
The Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry has a track record of encouraging our politicians as they put policies in place which will facilitate and support economic growth. We have worked in partnership with policy makers to encourage them to take specific initiatives, and most notably we have partnered all the parties in the long campaign to secure power over Corporation Tax.
So having remained as positive as we can for as long as we can, we have the credibility to say that throughout the business community there is presently a very deep sense of frustration at the instability which now characterises our political institutions. The hope and optimism with which the Stormont House Agreement was greeted has dissipated; in the months since then, the stalemate over welfare reform and now the latest political controversy over the security situation is threatening not only the progress signalled in the Stormont House Agreement, but it has put a question mark over the very existence of our Executive and Assembly.
The global economy is growing, so too the economies in the UK as a whole and in the Republic of Ireland, and at the same time we now, finally, hold the policy levers to ensure we are not left behind as a region. However, the sad reality is that we are falling behind, and the longer political squabbling takes precedence over policy making, we will fall further behind.
The business community – like the wider public in Northern Ireland – deserves better than that.
NI Chamber will remain engaged with the political parties and the political institutions and in fact we will be meeting the parties throughout September to outline our economic Action Plan which sets out our view as to how the economy can be developed in a sustainable way. Despite the current frustrations, there remain grounds for optimism – we continue to attract global investment, we have a skilled workforce and an entrepreneurial spirit which helps indigenous business to grow. The frustration is that we could perform so much better in the context of a stable and supportive political environment.
That’s what NI Chamber wants to see and is what we will continue to push for as we engage our political representatives.