Getting beyond the mendicant’s bowl…

The FT loses no time in getting to the point of having peace: building up rather than tearing down. In its leader today it argues that Northern Ireland should waste no time in getting its fiscal house in order.

Northern Ireland lacks the freedom to determine its own fiscal arrangements in the way that the Republic of Ireland’s decision to set a corporation tax rate of 12.5 per cent has helped it develop a vibrant economy. Yet even without that particular lever, the executive could still make the province a more attractive place to do business, for example by the way it allocates funding or approaches regulation.

The ministers in the newly-formed executive have little time to lose. This is a moment of goodwill, when there is the strongest chance of support across the European Union for special measures to help Northern Ireland. Over time, sentiment may become less generous while the UK taxpayer may become more grudging about the extent of public subsidy available to the province’s population. Self-government must become the spur for greater self-sufficiency, before the pictures of Mr Paisley and Mr McGuinness working together become unexceptional rather than extraordinary.