Have you ever wondered where the ideas for editorials come from? This leader in the Derry Journal, which gave rise to a longish conversation on Slugger, came from an unpublished piece by Sean Farren, the former minister of finance.Here’s Sean’s original piece:
“If the North’s economy is to prosper it will best do so in an all-island context and not as it is being dealt with at present as an entity on its own. On its own the North will continue to limp further and further behind the South’s performance.
“Over the next two years the South’s economy is predicted to grow at more than 5% and to remain one of the best performing economies in Europe. As a result foreign investment, particularly from the US, continues to be attracted from sectors such as pharmaceuticals, information technology and financial services. This is producing significant growth in employment with many migrant workers attracted by the South’s vibrant labour market and high quality job opportunities.
“Meanwhile Northern Ireland will experience growth of a more modest kind, at about 3%. However, in contrast to the South much of this growth will supplied by the public rather than the private wealth creating sector. In the business sector new investment is less likely to be from overseas and considerably more effort has to be spent attracting those likely to come than in the South.
“All of these factors point to the need to draw economic planning for North and South closer and closer together. The ultimate aim has to be the creation of an all-island economy which will build on the strengths of both.
“A start has to be in developing infrastructure on an integrated basis. Roads and transport, energy and telecommunications, for example, all need a clear all-island perspective. That perspective would agree projects on a complementary basis and set common timetables for their completion.
“Research and development which would draw on the strengths and resources of institutions and businesses North and South also demands an all-island approach. Already there are some excellent examples of what can be done but lacking is an overall comprehensive approach.
“Incentives for investment should be complementary and used to attract enterprises to both parts of Ireland and the remaining barriers to labour mobility throughout the island removed to create a single Irish labour market.
“The means to promote the all-island economy is the North-South Ministerial Council. However, suspension of the Assembly makes it impossible to develop measures which would lead to that goal. This is a further reason why it is essential to have the political institutions restored and the Good Friday Agreement working again.”