Tue 12th Sep 2017
September 2017: Signs of change point to better business climate
Ellvena Graham, President, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Northern Ireland is important to us. We in the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry are desperately hoping that our politicians can get together in the greater interests of all of us who live and work here. We have never been in doubt that a locally accountable Executive is by some degree the preferred system of Government and we have always encouraged the parties to work in a spirit of compromise and agreement to achieve that aim.
There has been very little to encourage those of us who yearn for a political agreement – up until last week there was no mood music nor straws in the wind. However, now we have a tiny bit of light at the end of the tunnel, purely because the language between the main parties has softened slightly. We hope that we are now at the beginning of a settlement which has firmer foundations than in the past and which can deliver sustainable Government.
In the meantime businesses are getting on with business. It is the nature of Northern Ireland’s business sector that companies survive, thrive and even flourish in any circumstances – exports are growing, unemployment continues to fall and we are still continuing to attract foreign direct investment. Just this week Invest NI is on a trade mission to the USA, unfortunately with no Ministers on board as part of the delegation. We can only speculate that with a settled Executive, much could be achieved not only for our economy but for wider society.
We can probably be accused of being an inward looking society, maybe that’s because we have come from such a troubled past. People here are instinctively interested in politics and the news and on the prospects for Northern Ireland.
However, every now and then it is important that we lift our sights and look at the wider horizon.
The images this week of the dreadful impact of hurricanes and storms on the east coast of the USA, the Caribbean and Cuba have been startling and a reminder to us all that much more needs to be done locally and globally, around climate change and the long term protection of the environment. Of course the weather had an impact closer to home recently when Derry/Londonderry and areas of the North West were devastated by torrential rain and floods leaving many businesses and homes in ruin.
So as we watch reports on storms floods and hurricanes, let’s hope that locally we are finally headed for calmer conditions.