It’s That Man Again

Seems like buses, or Orange marches – nothing for ages then a bunch come along together.
UTV carries a press association story that could raise a few hackles –
Laird wins Hevesi backing on jobs – as it is claimed that Lord Laird has “secured the backing of an eminent American businessman to tackle alleged discrimination against Protestants in the Irish Republic.”Lord Laird said Alan Hevesi, controller of the £66 billion New York State retirement fund, will join him in putting pressure on Dublin to tackle the claim.

Mr Hevesi, a long-term critic of employment practices in Northern Ireland, endorsed the campaign after he announced he was committing £3.75m towards business development in the country.

Lord Laird claimed discrimination was particularly acute in County Donegal where he said Protestants make up 11% of the workforce but hold only 1% of civil service jobs.

He hailed Mr Hevesi`s endorsement as a “human rights breakthrough”.

The veteran peer said: “I very much applaud this initiative and the fact that Mr Hevesi has offered me his full support.

“It is only through people of his stature that we will be able to stop the discrimination and marginalisation of the pro-British and Ulster-Scots Protestant community across the border.

“I shall be in contact with Mr Hevesi shortly with a view to moving this campaign on and forcing the Dublin government to act.

Possibly of greater importance in real terms is the news that after championing US investment in NI for some time Mr Hevesi will be committing funds from The “New York Retirement Fund” into “Crescent Capital” – linked to Invest Northern ireland.

Today he said that progress was being made and the disparity between Catholic and Protestant employment opportunities was closing.

Announcing his investment, he said: “Northern Ireland represents tremendous opportunities for growth and prosperity, regardless of religious, political or any other affiliation.”

He added: “We are investing in Crescent Capital II because the fund represents an excellent opportunity, with the potential to create new jobs and economic prosperity for all communities by providing local technology companies with much-needed capital so they can grow and thrive here in Northern Ireland.”

As the article makes clear, this is a vote of confidence in the progress being made in a return to normality via the ongoing peace process.