Mon 13th Nov 2017
November 2017: We need a deal that protects jobs not just for business but for the wider society
Ellvena Graham, President, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry
While Northern Ireland achieved an amazing accolade recently from the Lonely Planet which declared the region the number one must see location in the world, the number of overseas visitors reached almost £1 million in the first half of 2017, and exports are growing, we do not have an Assembly focused on the fundamentals of skills, infrastructure and Brexit.
NI Chamber members are very concerned for the economy and in terms of Brexit we need a deal that protects jobs not just for business but for the wider society.
The news recently of significant job losses in the local manufacturing sector was a blow especially coming so soon after the Bombardier workforce saw a C Series lifeline in the form of the Airbus deal which has the potential to avoid the Trump led tariff that would render the product unfeasible. Also, the proposal by oil field services firm Schlumberger to close its Newtownabbey plant is a further blight on the economic landscape.
That is why it is imperative that a deal is struck between the main political parties even though to date it has varied in nothingness ranging from ‘no chance’ to ‘maybe but don’t hold your breath.’
Unfortunately when the dust settled and the latest deadline had passed there was no deal, no devolution, no Executive and no Assembly. As things stand we are in a sort of halfway house limbo between a local Executive and full blown direct rule. It is actually the worst position to be in with decisions being made on only absolutely vital issues such as the budget which could be imposed on Northern Ireland by the UK Government by the end of November if no deal is agreed. So the message is – find a resolution!
We know from our daily contact with businesses, large and small and across all sectors that the preferred outcome is for a return of our own Assembly.
It has always been the nature of the Northern Ireland business community to plough ahead usually in spite of rather than inspired by the pace of political process and that will happen in the months and years ahead. Our business community is actually providing an example to the politicians, by very simply, getting on with the job.