Claire Hanna addressed an audience of businesspeople today (Thursday), where she outlined the SDLP’s core principles ahead of the assembly election.
The MP for South Belfast was speaking at an event hosted by Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber), part of a pre-election series delivered in partnership with SSE Airtricity.
Speaking in the Europa Hotel, she said, “”People, communities and businesses need and deserve a functioning government working for them. We have always said that bringing the Executive down is the easy part – reforming it, getting it back and injecting stability is much more difficult. The SDLP is ambitious for this place and we’re ambitious for the difference we can make in the Assembly and at Westminster in addressing the skills deficit, managing the transition to a low carbon economy and improving wellbeing. But when this election is done, the focus must remain on restoring a devolved government. We’re prepared to put in the hard yards to make that possible.”
NI Chamber’s Vice-President, Gillian McAuley also spoke, stressing that the incoming Executive should focus on areas of strategic importance including promoting Northern Ireland internationally, skilling up for a green and digital future and speeding up planning decisions, saying:
“To achieve any of this successfully, we need to see all of our political representatives around the Executive table, focusing on creating the conditions for a flourishing private sector.
“At NI Chamber, we believe that Northern Ireland is a unique place and that our focus should be on what makes us a uniquely brilliant place to work, live and do business. As a region, we enjoy unrivalled access to both the EU and UK markets, creating opportunities for exports, FDI and international collaboration. We have a youthful, highly skilled workforce with high levels of wellbeing in a cost competitive location, which is recovering rapidly from the pandemic. By working collaboratively, we have a tangible opportunity to lead in the innovation and operation of digital and green technologies as we aim for net zero 2050 – or earlier.
“As we gather this morning, Northern Ireland has a window of opportunity to excel in a number of spaces. The next set of Ministers and MLAs must get to work quickly, put party politics aside and deliver the certainty and stability that businesses, their employees and everyone in Northern Ireland deserves.”
Mark Ennis, Chairman, SSE Ireland added:
“The recent passing of Northern Irelands’ Climate Bill by the Assembly will be critical in driving investment in low carbon infrastructure and green growth. The Bill sets a target of 80% renewable electricity by 2030, something which shows just how pivotal the energy sector will be in reaching our decarbonisation objectives.
“The new Energy Strategy, published at the end of 2021 by the Department for the Economy highlights the need to drastically improve the energy efficiency of our homes and businesses. The Strategy sets a target of 25% energy savings by 2030, equating to 50,000 retrofits a year. SSE Airtricity wants to be at the forefront of delivering this change in Northern Ireland, offering a ‘One Stop Shop’ solution for customers in undertaking retrofit projects to make their homes warmer, more environmentally friendly and less costly to run. The prize for doing all of this will be a sustainable energy system, which reduces costs for consumers and our exposure to global fossil fuel prices, and ultimately increases the attractiveness of Northern Ireland to international investment.”