Cham­ber ad­vises politi­cians to ac­cept agree­ment

The Irish Times - Business - - FRONT PAGE - PETER HAMILTON

North­ern Ire­land’s Cham­ber of Com­merce has called on politi­cians to get on board with the UK’s draft with­drawal agree­ment with the EU or out­line an al­ter­na­tive to it.

El­l­vena Gra­ham, pres­i­dent of North­ern Ire­land’s Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try, said the agree­ment was a “wel­come step for­ward for the ma­jor­ity of busi­ness in North­ern Ire­land and it is def­i­nitely much bet­ter than a no-deal sce­nario”.

Ad­dress­ing guests at the cham­ber’s an­nual ban­quet, Ms Gra­ham praised UK prime min­is­ter Theresa May’s re­silience, which she said had been matched only by busi­nesses.

“We want the out­come that’s best for busi­nesses, for con­sumers, for the econ­omy and for the fu­ture sta­bil­ity of North­ern Ire­land – and we’ll do ev­ery­thing we can to en­sure that we get it,” she said.

“We there­fore en­cour­age our po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives who sup­port the draft agree­ment to do ev­ery­thing in their power to in­flu­ence po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Bri­tain to join them.

“For those that are not in sup­port of the draft agree­ment, it is now time to out­line your al­ter­na­tive pro­pos­als. We are will­ing to lis­ten.”

Ms Gra­ham also flagged a func­tion­ing ex­ec­u­tive as an “up­per­most” pri­or­ity.

“Last week a list was pub­lished of all the things that are be­ing held up by the lack of an Ex­ec­u­tive – a pile-up of more than 160 de­ci­sions af­fect­ing all as­pects of North­ern Ire­land life – all need­ing the sig­na­ture of a min­is­ter.”

“Ev­ery ac­tion – or in­deed non-ac­tion – has con­se­quences. And the con­se­quence of a lack of real po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion means that we have no con­sol­i­dated voice to speak for us at a time when we have never needed it more,” she said.

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