In­dus­try groups slam Stor­mont stale­mate

Belfast Telegraph - - BUSINESS - BY JOHN MULGREW

THREE lead­ing North­ern Ire­land busi­ness groups have said they are “deeply frustrated” with the stale­mate at Stor­mont.

Hos­pi­tal­ity Ul­ster, Man­u­fac­tur­ing NI and Retail NI also stressed it was im­por­tant to hold cen­tral gov­ern­ment to ac­count.

The groups met with Shadow North­ern Ire­land Sec­re­tary Owen Smith to out­line their con­cerns for their re­spec­tive sec­tors, which em­ploy tens of thou­sands of peo­ple.

It has been nine months since the As­sem­bly was dis­solved, fol­low­ing a break­down in re­la­tions be­tween the DUP and Sinn Fein.

In a joint state­ment, Colin Neill, Stephen Kelly and Glyn Roberts — from the three or­gan­i­sa­tions — said: “The three sec­tors that we rep­re­sent are the largest in North­ern Ire­land and em­ploy tens of thou­sands of work­ers with a turnover of bil­lions to the lo­cal economy.

“Grow­ing our retail, hos­pi­tal­ity and man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tors is es­sen­tial for the fu­ture of North­ern Ire­land and for its economy.”

The groups dis­cussed a num­ber of con­cerns with Labour MP Mr Smith, in­clud­ing Brexit, VAT and more.

“It is im­por­tant that the Labour Party con­tin­ues to hold the Gov­ern­ment to ac­count and also sets out its al­ter­na­tive pol­icy plat­form for the North­ern Ire­land economy,” they said.

“Our re­spec­tive mem­bers are deeply frustrated at the con­tin­ual dead­lock at Stor­mont and are con­cerned that di­rect rule is a likely prospect.

“While de­vo­lu­tion was never per­fect, it was (good) hav­ing lo­cally elected and ac­count­able min­is­ters in place”

Mr Smith said it was clear lo­cal busi­nesses wanted the Ex­ec­u­tive up and run­ning again.

“They are right that lo­cally based and ac­count­able politi­cians are the best (peo­ple) to take de­ci­sions about eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment,” he added.

“The par­ties and two govern­ments must now re­dou­ble their ef­forts to bring about restora­tion of the de­volved in­sti­tu­tions to give a voice to North­ern Ire­land’s busi­ness com­mu­nity and its cit­i­zens dur­ing the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions and be­yond.”

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