Northern boom on its way

IIB chief executive Ted Marah says in the Irish Times (subs needed) he believes that strong economic growth in Northern Ireland is on its way as the effects of the southern boom spread north.The mortgage lender says it has currently 654 million euros in capital employed and is expanding on the island.

It will open a regional headquarters in Belfast with the logic behind this move is that Northern Ireland is beginning to show signs of strong growth.

Marah says that it is partly the peace dividend, and partly the fact that economic expansion in the Republic is beginning to make an impact north of the border.

“If you look at employment growth in the course of 2004, it was below the Republic, which was 2.3%,” he says.

“They had a 1.8% growth in Northern Ireland, in comparison with a European average of 0.5% and a British growth rate of 1.0%.

“You’re looking at a growth rate that’s 80% above that of the UK and almost four times the European average.”

He also points out that there has been a shift in the nature of employment in the North, with job numbers in traditional industries falling by 6% and those in services and construction increasing by 8%.

“It’s very similar to what happened here in the recent past,” he says.