Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill addressed an audience of businesspeople today (Tuesday), where she outlined her party’s economic mission.
She was speaking at an event hosted by Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber), part of a ‘5 Leaders; 5 Days’ pre-election series delivered in partnership with SSE Airtricity.
Speaking in the Europa Hotel, Ms O’Neill said:
“It is critical that the economy is to the fore in this election, as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, and work to build our economic recovery, protect jobs, and sustain business.
“We require strong economic policies by the Executive, use of our spending power, laws, regulation and financial grants and an investment proposition to help benefit our society and economy.
“We will provide leadership to drive our Economic Mission that all of Government should coalesce around – creating a productive, sustainable, regionally balanced and competitive economy with good jobs and All-Ireland connected infrastructure.
“An approach in which economic policy is co-designed with industry, and is finely tuned to the specific needs of different sectors. A pragmatic approach which embraces the benefits of all-Ireland co-operation and the Protocol with access to the single market.”
NI Chamber’s President, Paul Murnaghan 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.”
Nikki Flanders, Managing Director of Energy Customer Solutions GB & Ireland, SSE, added:
“The passing of the Northern Ireland Climate Bill in the Assembly and the setting of a net zero target by 2050 is to be strongly welcomed, as it is vital to providing confidence for low carbon infrastructure and green investments. If we are to reach the target of 80% renewable energy by 2030 we need to more than double the level of wind capacity in Northern Ireland this decade. To achieve this target it is vital that we see action post-election as a framework in itself will not deliver on our ambitions. ”