Mon 26th Jun 2017
June 2017: Some elections are more significant than others…
Ellvena Graham, President, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Some elections are more significant than others and it is very easy to say that this may actually have been the most significant election in living memory.
There has been speculation in the past that general elections may lead to a hung parliament, that Northern Ireland MPs may have a role to play on the national stage, that Westminster elections could bring about a seismic shift on the UK political stage. The speculation usually amounts to just that, speculation. However 8 June 2017 changed all that, dramatically and very significantly.
The DUP’s newfound position at Westminster presents an opportunity for the party to advance their own political cause. On this occasion it should also be about securing concessions and rewards for Northern Ireland – an economic deal which benefits everyone in the region. One that is inclusive and eases the economic uncertainty that we’ve been enduring for so long.
Key economic policies around infrastructure investment, the impact of Brexit locally, the need for increased investment in our schools and health services, resourcing the lowering of Corporation Tax…all of these are surely now on the table.
Specifically, there are a number of measures that NI Chamber has long advocated as vital for growth:
- investment in our people to support the long term unemployed in particular return to work;
- increased investment in infrastructure to improve communication and in our universities and colleges to overcome the skills challenges that all our businesses face;
- additional fiscal powers to boost our economy such as the abolishment of Air Passenger Duty in Northern Ireland and City Deals
The current focus may be on Westminster but the local picture must not be neglected. We cannot be left in limbo. The business community is at one in seeking the return of an Executive and Assembly, that is the kind of certainty and stability which we require locally.
It really is time to put the Northern Ireland economy first – a strong economy will benefit everyone.