So what do you expect from Brown…?

SO no significant cut in corporation tax for Northern Ireland in the budget… and no more expected later today, for political, as much as financial, reasons. Any commission to review the tax is meaningless. What we are expecting is a new ‘innovation fund’, although the Chancellor has previewed it in terms of announcing “details of a new Northern Ireland innovation fund” – suggesting it might not be as new as we think. Given how easily the last so-called ‘£50 billion’ package was dissected – and found to be money already earmarked for Northern Ireland – it will be interesting to see how much of today’s announcement will amount to ‘new’ money. Given that Brown’s November announcement mentioned how the Government will “stand ready to support the innovation and science and the technology in Northern Ireland”, will the ‘innovation fund’ be a re-announcement of a re-announcement? Hope not – but Peter Hain will have kittens declaring how generous Gordo is anyway. To continue with a cynical line of thought just remember that, despite the appearance of hard horse-trading by the DUP and Sinn Fein for a fair economic package, it was the instability created by those parties that led to millions – possibly billions – of dollars of foreign investment heading elsewhere after the 1998 Agreement. International goodwill from Irish-American investors wanting to put something back in the oul’ sod dried up, thanks to the unstable political environment. Now we’re simply playing catch-up for almost a decade of tribal bickering that cost us hundreds of jobs.