DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson believes Northern Ireland can replicate the Irish Republic’s economic success and become a sort of Ulster Tiger. First there is just the small matter of Northern Ireland getting a stable devolved government as well as breaking away from its dependency culture on grants and handouts, replacing it with an economic environment which rewards entrepreneurship.
“The Republic talks about the Celtic Tiger,” Robinson said during a conference in Belfast organised by financial firm KPMG and attended by Irish Enterprise Minister Micheal Martin and businessmen. “If we can get those features into place you will see the stripes and hear a mighty roar from Ulster.”
Robinson also argued that Northern Ireland would have to address its reliance on the public sector, highlighted elsewhere, making the transition to a private sector dominated economy and that it was the responsibility of government to come up with policies which helped rather than hindered the private sector, and which were supportive of small and medium size enterprises. Unfortunately, the article doesn’t say whether he named any of these policies.
He also admitted that while the region`s relationship with its southern neighbour was important, he naturally felt the relationship with Great Britain was more important. The economic relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic was best left to the market to determine, he said.
“I believe that there is no reason why we cannot have the best of both worlds,” the East Belfast MP said. “We are part of the fourth largest economy in the world and have a successful economy to our south which we can also exploit to our benefit.”
Cooperation with the Irish Republic was to be welcomed as long it made common sense.
“Government can seek to remove obstacles to co-operation but political interference in the process can be counterproductive,” he said.
“When I was Minister for Regional Development I had no difficulty working with the authorities in the Republic on roads and transport issues. It made common sense for us all and I believed it worked well.
“I have no doubt that in the context of stable political institutions at Stormont where co-operation with the Republic is based on practical, not political considerations our relationship with our nearest neighbour will continue to grow.
“There are many areas where working together with the Irish Republic would be enormously to our mutual advantage and we should not allow politics to be an obstacle to such an advance.
“Equally it would be a real threat to north-south relations if there were politically motivated attempts to enhance links where the merits of the individual proposals are lost in the politics of it all.”