Call for all-Ireland inward investment body…

THE chairman of the Ulster Bank Group, Dr Alan Gillespie, has called for a merger between the two inward investment promoters – Northern Ireland’s Invest NI and the Republic’s Industrial Development Agency. The former chairman of the Northern Ireland Industrial Development Board (Invest NI’s predecessor) said: “I believe that to market Northern Ireland effectively we should align the inward investment marketing activities of Invest Northern Ireland (INI) with the Republic of Ireland’s IDA. We should promote an all-island economy through a single joined-up effective agency, with the IDA and INI no longer competitors, but fully collaborative.”

  • PeaceandJustice

    Northern Ireland needs to have its own investment agency – quite often we are in competition with the Republic of Ireland e.g. Aer Lingus

  • Temporary ship jumper

    I definitely like the idea in principle but hasn’t NI received a pretty raw deal from the equivalent pointed out to in the above article, the tourism board? If that was repaired it would be easier to persuade people to do this.

    P&J- we are still currently separate sovereigns.. if it benefits us both to merge investment agencies then cool, but otherwise, not so sure competition is necessarily a bad thing.

  • Dewi

    Love the quote from the Irish Times : ” Dr Gillespie, from a Unionist background !!”

    But, seriously, this is wonderful stuff.

  • June 76

    If we are in competition with the Republic, then we are losing badly.

  • Nevin

    In Alan’s all-island economy would we just have one bank? 😉

    Tourists seem to manage quite well despite the woeful Tourism Ireland and NITB …

  • “Northern Ireland needs to have its own investment agency – quite often we are in competition with the Republic of Ireland e.g. Aer Lingus”

    There will always be competition within the catchment area of any investment agency. The most significant thing about the Shannon example is that the Irish Government declined to intervene

  • hovetwo

    “Tourists seem to manage quite well despite the woeful Tourism Ireland and NITB … ”

    Although the last time I looked it up tourism as a % of GDP in Northern Ireland was around 2%, compared to 6% in Scotland and the Republic. Obviously an opportunity Tourism Ireland has yet to exploit.

    Generally speaking the competition for FDI is pan-European or global – NI vs ROI would be quite a long way down the shopping list of criteria an investor toys with.

    The IDA has world-class expertise and networks which could benefit Invest NI, however if more investments like the 1,100 job, billion euro Amgen deal in Cork hit the buffers, then the IDA will be targeted exclusively on replacing jobs in the Republic, particularly with the downturn in construction.

    This sort of idea is only likely to take off if full employment is maintained in the Republic and the IDA is tasked with chasing surplus FDI for use in Northern Ireland. Even then, it also requires very supportive government institutions (read the rest of his article on the structure of the Executive: scary); great infrastructure; attractive fiscal policies and an education system that supports all children (streamed comprehensives?).

    The payoff for the Republic is a stable and prosperous neighbour. Greater economic interdependence on an all-island basis would reduce NIs dependence on the UK (or the Republic) as a market – this sort of FDI would lead to exports across the world.

  • Elvis Parker

    Mr Gillespie may be a clever dick but he is naive. Why does he suggest the Republic joins the UK or the US. Load of crap

  • PeaceandJustice

    Alan Gillespie is being naive politically. Northern Ireland as part of the UK has many differences with its foreign Eurozone neighbour. I believe the DUP will not let this happen. It works towards the Pan-Nationalist agenda and would cause Northern Ireland to lose its identity. If there is to be any realignment then the IDA should be working with the rest of the British Isles to promote a British Isles economy – but keeping the different investment agencies.

  • Dewi

    Probably the most important post on here in the last “historic” three years.

  • George

    Dr. Gillespie had a much more detailed article inside the paper where he looks at the issue in more detail.

    Naturally, he supports the campaign to lower corporation tax to 12.5 per cent but asks what has made Ireland so successful.

    He cites Craig Barrett, chairman of Intel:

    “He noted three things make a country’s economy competitive – a good education system; investment in new technologies and R&D; and a regulatory and tax regime which is conducive to doing business.”

    He then goes on to discuss the Varney review on the corporate tax issue, outlining three possible scenarios.

    1. “The treasury says yes and we move into high gear to use this new competitiveness to win foreign direct investment (FDI).We will compete with Ireland and the IDA with the same tax regime.”

    2. What if the treasury says no?
    “In this case “what is plan B?” For a few days we will blame the treasury, the prime minister, Varney et al for not delivering a significant package. After that we will quickly need to get back to work promoting Northern Ireland without a dramatic change in corporate tax.”

    3. This is what Gillespie is possibly the most likely outcome and involves marginal adjustments to corporate tax, some allowances and incentives.

    “Possibly Inland Revenue permission to establish a financial services centre-type implant in Belfast docks? So we need a plan B, and possibly a plan C, and we will need to be nimble if we are serious about moving from debate to delivery.”

    He says attracting FDI is critical but that FDI is very demanding and requires a broad competitiveness package, not just tax.

    How to deliver this in Northern Ireland?

    “First we must acknowledge that a mature economy is not just based on FDI. We recall from the 1970s that FDI is very mobile and can move out of a region just as quickly as it moves in. Northern Ireland enjoyed a period when it was the man-made fibre centre of Europe with DuPont, Courtaulds, Enkalon, Chemstrand, ICI and others creating a significant cluster of FDI, bringing employment and stimulating exports.

    Today these companies are almost all gone.

    So alongside the foreign multinationals we hope to attract, we should also encourage local businesses to establish and grow.”

    Secondly, NI needs to grow its existing businesses.

    “We must nurture a balanced, diversified economy where there is a place for large- and small-scale enterprises, for companies of both local and foreign origin.”

    to be cont…

  • Sunningdale

    P&J- In the words of Bill Clinton “Its the economy stupid!”.

    The Politics will sort themselves out in due course and I don’t see this as a Trojan Horse to undermine the Union as having read Alan Gillespie’s comments I don’t see them as a blue print for a political union with ROI.

    That said, in economic terms it makes a lot of sense, the various UK economic development agencies all compete at present for the same foreign direct investment. We also have to compete with the ROI, with whom we already have strong infrastructural links.

    The Celtic Tiger can either be our most fierce competitor or our best ally as the SE of England will never take a dewy-eyed view of their troublesome NI compatriots where the economy is concerned.

    So, bottom line is do we want to grow our economy on our own terms (talk to NI industrialists as I have and you will find that under the surface it is a pretty bleak picture), hope for crumbs to fall from the UK table (no Westminster Labour or Conservative seats = damn all help from Westminster) or forge a strategic partnership to work with the ROI where we can add huge value (eg our Universities’ research is in some cases genuinely world-class) and as yet barely tapped potential for high value added jobs.

    Elements of the ROI economy have hit a barrier due to lack of suitably qualified workers – we have them and can keep the ROI bubbling along and give our economy a much needed shot in the arm with a decent boost in high value-added employment as opposed to yet more call centres and low end service jobs.

    The bottom line is that if we want to make a step change to the NI economy we can cross our fingers and muddle along as before or be courageous and confident and forge a mutually beneficial partnership. To me this is a no brainer.

  • George

    Gillespie then outlines how he believes NI can develop its competitiveness package in addition to tax:

    “1) Skills in the workforce, supported by an effective education system;

    2) Modern infrastructure of roads, ports, airports and telecoms giving access and connectivity;

    3) Efficient, cost-effective energy supplies;

    4) Innovation and R&D anchored in university research;

    5) Adequate availability of capital, both debt and equity;

    6) Culture, housing, schools, recreation.”

    He believes improved competitiveness will be helped if the region pursues the most effective international marketing and if the IDA is “best in class” and a “world leader” why not use it?

    “Would it work? Such an approach would offer the most effective reach to decision-makers at the top of the world’s multinationals. We could offer choices of location, jurisdiction, currency and culture.

    This is not a homogeneous island and even with differential tax rates between North and South, it is worth offering FDI a well articulated case that each part of the island has its relative attractiveness. A joined-up INI/IDA should be a win/win for both parts of the island.”

    Also urgently needed is a strong entrepreneurial culture where risk and enterprise are nurtured and speed, agility and flexibility are valued.

    “Today we do not have an operating environment characterised by speed, agility and flexibility. That is why the visitors’ centre at the Giant’s Causeway, our No 1 iconic tourist destination (and Unesco World Heritage Site), has not yet been rebuilt seven years after it was destroyed by fire.

    In half this time the Cliffs of Moher visitors’ centre in Co Clare has been designed, approved, built and opened to receive tens of thousands of visitors!

    Here in Co Antrim we have an effective deadlock between Moyle Council, DETI, DRD, the National Trust and other local interests. We are seriously stuck and yet place the development of “tourist product” and “visitor experience” high on the agenda for the economy!”

    After that it’s the old chestnut of public sector reform, including reducing the overall percentage of NI’s workforce involved in it (currently nearly a third and the reform of local government.

    He also highlights the seemingly bizarre situation where there actually isn’t a single department of government with responsibility for economic strategy and policy delivery.

    Instead nine out of 11 departments of government carry some responsibility for the economy.

    “Economic policy is developed in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. Finance is responsible for regional economic strategy and budget. Enterprise is responsible for strategic economic development, energy, business regulation, inward investment, tourism. Employment is responsible for workforce skills, Agriculture for agribusiness and Culture for the creative industries. Planning sits within Environment, urban economic regeneration within Social Development and Regional Development provides the physical infrastructure. Such a lack of coherence hinders economic development and delivery.”

    Titanic quarter and public sector working with the private sector is also recommended.

  • Nevin

    I suppose it’s only a matter of time before Alan has a round of golf with Brigadier McDonald. How can he expect folks here to work together for the good of all within a ‘nationalist’ straight-jacket? It’s bad politics and so maybe not brilliant economics.

  • Nevin

    “Today we do not have an operating environment characterised by speed, agility and flexibility.” – and sleaze – but I think we’re getting there – on sleaze, that is!!

  • PeaceandJustice

    Currently the economy of the Republic of Ireland is doing well. That doesn’t mean it will be good for all time. So an economic take over for short term gain doesn’t make sense.

    Northern Ireland is just coming out of a period of economic turbulence caused by Sinn Fein IRA terrorists bombing economic targets and murdering business people.

    It will take time to build up the confidence required for investment.

    Dewi – “Probably the most important post on here in the last ‘historic’ three years.”
    I wouldn’t get too excited. The DUP will never allow this to happen. Alan Gillespie may have good experience in the business world, but he obviously doesn’t know much about politics. The push needs to be towards a British Isles economy which includes the RoI.

  • kensei

    “Currently the economy of the Republic of Ireland is doing well. That doesn’t mean it will be good for all time. So an economic take over for short term gain doesn’t make sense.”

    A fact of life: rich countries tend to stay rich.

    Economic take over for short term gain makes sense over, er, the short term. I’m glad you think any moves that bring us closer to the South are irreversible though.

    “I wouldn’t get too excited. The DUP will never allow this to happen. Alan Gillespie may have good experience in the business world, but he obviously doesn’t know much about politics.

    In a sense it doesn’t matter. If the economic gravity is towards closer links with the Republic, the DUP can block things like this but it’ll be powerless to stop the overall trend. The same logic applies in reverse.

    “The push needs to be towards a British Isles economy which includes the RoI.”

    It really doesn’t. The Republic is the only area within the British and Irish Isles to match or exceed the growth of SE England. There are plenty of examples of successful small economies, and the pull throughout the UK is towards more devolution and more separation/specialisation.

    The UK represented a large common market, but it’s been dwarfed by the EU.

  • PeaceandJustice

    kensei –

    You can dream all you want – it’s not going to happen. But the push should be for working together within the British Isles. In world wide terms, the British Isles is just a couple of main islands. Global companies need a menu of options within the British Isles – promoted by the relevant agencies.

  • George

    “Global companies need a menu of options within the British Isles – promoted by the relevant agencies.”

    But as Gillespie points out, the IDA would be perfectly capable of providing this menu of options and while INI is struggling the IDA is a world leader – “best in class”.

    That is the reality. The UK has been a top global destination for FDI for years and Northern Ireland has got crumbs. So it seems the “relevant agency” as you call it isn’t delivering within a UK context.

    A leading economist argues that the IDA would be much better at delivering the goods than the current situation. We already have Northern Irish businessmen and women hanging on to the coat-tails of Irish-government led business delegations throughout the world.

    Gillespie hasn’t come up with this idea in a vacuum. He is seeing the reality on the ground.

    He is seeing who is being successful in getting investment into the island of Ireland, the Irish government, and who isn’t, the British government.

    Can you put forward an argument as to why the IDA couldn’t do a better job rather than what seems to be your current position of simply not wanting them to do a better job?

  • Nevin

    George, history shows that our dispute is political, about the control of territory, rather than about economics. Unionists put forward the economic argument over a century ago; now it’s the domain of nationalists.

    If we’re to be able to work together constructively then strand 2 of the 1998 Agreement should be incorporated in strand 3 and there should be shared sovereignty for NI.

    Our ‘external’ relationships with the rest of these two islands need to be developed in tandem, otherwise our various expressions of apartheid will continue to flourish – to the detriment of all.

    IMO ‘international’ funding is favouring our relationship with RoI at the expense of our relationship with GB and organisations such as the CBI and Chambers of Commerce are probably following the money.

    In general, short term greed will not meet long term need.

  • DK

    In my opinion this is an excellent suggestion. Within the UK we are one region, one that offers somewhat lower costs, but is a bit out of the way. In an all-Ireland context we are a product offering: with significantly different tax and benefits structure, not to mention currencies, the two parts of Ireland can meet the needs of more businesses than one can alone.

    “Hello Mr Business – corporation tax important to you: try brand green. Want access to sterling infrastructure: try brand orange.”

    How many investment agencies can bring such a variety to the table?

    However, there are negatives: as soon as the united investment agency gets a company to locate in Belfast rather than Dublin you will get a stink from the TDs of the magnitude of the recent Aer Lingus row. The government will not be happy with this – so political interferance will be something the agency will get hit with, and NI will lose out here since half our politicians are only half-hearted about NI being a success and the rest are more intersted in their Bible studies.

  • Nevin

    In a wider context, Gillespie’s logic fits within a United States of Europe – no nations but a multiplicity of regions – small is beautiful from a EU mandarin perspective – it’s a bit like Belfast telling Derry to be quiet and do what your told.

  • George

    our relationship with Great Britain has never been better and is most certainly flourishing. East-West is doing fine. The major problems remain with North-South and internally in NI.

    We are currently flying on one wing economically on this island and need the Northern part to prosper if Ireland is to move to next stage.

    As for the “dispute”, how does marketing the island of Ireland as a whole impinge on sovereignty? That issue has been settled by the Principle of Consent.

    Naturally, there is still distrust but nothing is going to happen to NI politically unless a majority wish it to happen.

    But to ignore the reality that we are together on a small island makes no sense. It also makes no sense for NI not to make use of the global brand that is “Ireland”.

    The IDA can just as easily market NI as a sterling area within the UK, which might be exactly what a particular investor wants and needs.

    As I said, the UK is probably the top FDI destination in Europe but Northern Ireland is getting virtually nothing.

    So we have a situation where one of the world’s top development agencies could be called upon to improve this situation because those currently doing the job or responsible for seeing the job is done simply aren’t up to it or simply aren’t in a position to deliver.

    Why wait for Godot?

    Instead, if the IDA, which is here and now, can market this particular area of the UK, bringing jobs and prosperity why not?

    It will benefit all of Ireland Inc.

    How can making Northern Ireland a more vibrant and economically successful region within the UK undermine its sovereignty?

    Unionist fear of the future and a resultant failure to act will undermine it much much more.

  • Original Nature Boy

    I think that you will find tourist numbers declined after certain people offered to firebomb the police over a march in Drumcree.

    Who would these people have been?

  • Nova

    Slightly naive, no? Of course the two development/investment agencies are competitors, the corporate tax will go to different governments….

  • Nevin

    “East-West is doing fine”

    Well that has suited both London and Dublin, George; it has largely confined the paramilitary mafiaism and ‘civic justice’ to NI. The mandarins in Iveagh House are sitting pretty whereas those in the Department of Justice are more than a little nervous.

    The East-West dimension for NI I suspect is much less healthy.

    I checked out Tourism Ireland and related matters some years ago. I found that the then RoI Minister with responsibility for tourism was presenting himself as the tourism minister for the whole island.

    Visitors arriving in Dublin and Shannon have been actively discouraged from going north, that being outside Tourism Ireland’s remit. That’s the feedback I get from folks that I’ve met on the ancestral heritage trail.

    A unionist MLA representing the North Coast was cold shouldered at a tourism exhibition in Dublin; he was perceived to be a poacher in Bord Failte territory. The same MLA attended a major tourism exhibition in London. Tourism Ireland had major representation from Dublin but none from Belfast.

    The apparent lack of co-ordination of tourism arrangements across the two islands is hampering the free flow of tourists; it seems that Strand 3 isn’t working. Better co-ordination would do a bit of damage to London and Dublin but it would greatly enhance Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff; most of all it would greatly enhance the tourism experience.

    Failure to achieve a better balance also means that yobs in Bushmills are likely to continue to clod cars with RoI numberplates – when they’re not indulging their racist and related tendencies.

  • snakebrain

    I approve. De facto economic integration makes perfect sense for the island of Ireland. The politics can catch up when it’s ready.

    The rest of us will hopefully be busy making money while they get on with the wrangling and debating….

  • George

    it may well be that the East-West dimension for NI is less healthy but that is for NI to sort out.

    I am more interesting in talking about the opportunities to improve the NI economy and with it North-South and internal relations north of the border.

    The bottom line is do you think the IDA is up to the job that Gillespie thinks it can do and, if not, why not, and who will do it instead and when and how?

    As for your anecdotes about a lack of cohesion of the tourist industry in Ireland and Tourism Ireland in particular, I need facts rather than impressions and anecdotes.

    If Tourism Ireland is failing to do its job, how exactly and why? Where has this been highlighted other than anecdotally and what is the evidence of it?

    Do things like riots at Whiterock and Ardoyne, which were beamed into the living rooms of NI’s main tourist market, or the scandal that NI’s main tourist attraction hasn’t had a visitors’ centre for the last 7 years also come into play?

    On a British-Irish joint tourism market, I don’t know how big a market that is or could be and whether it would attract more visitors to Ireland or not. How many people plan a tour of the islands of GB and Ireland for a holiday?

    Even Scotland and Wales market themselves separately.

    I have never heard a successful case been argued for that idea but I am all ears.

    But remember we are actually talking about the IDA and whether it can do a job that will benefit NI.

    You haven’t ruled out the idea that they could.

  • kensei

    “You can dream all you want – it’s not going to happen.”

    I’m not dreaming about anything. This is reality:

    1. If the economic tide is pushing in a given direction, it’s very difficult for governments to fight it

    2. The SNP lead a minority government in Scotland. Almost all parties there are agreed for the need for more powers. Plaid is in a coalition in Wales. SF and a hardly integrationist DUP run here. The trend at the moment is clearly towards more devolution, and greater differences in regional economies.

    3. The SE of England has been driving the UK economy for many years now.

    4. The only place to match or exceed the growth of the SE England in Britain/Ireland over that period has been the Republic of Ireland. It is also the only area that has independence.

    5. Rich countries tend to stay rich. Check your history books. Very few rich countries are relatively worse than they were 40 years ago. New Zealand, I think, is the only one that has dropped down a bit. The Republic may return the 1980’s but it’s unlikely, and would probably take a catastrophic event or malice in government.

    Thems the facts. how that helps or hinders your politics is up to you.

    “But the push should be for working together within the British Isles. In world wide terms, the British Isles is just a couple of main islands. Global companies need a menu of options within the British Isles – promoted by the relevant agencies.”

    The only things that really matter are:

    1. Access to markets
    2. Taxation and Regulatory policy
    3. Quality of workforce.
    4. Infrastructure

    The UK is rendered irrelevant by the EU in terms of 1, and 2,3 and are both perfectly capable of being controlled, and controlled better, by independent governments. 4 could theoretically be done better by a bigger government transferring wealth, but er, hasn’t really worked out that way.

  • Nevin

    George, I think the IDA would fail NI in much the same way as Tourism Ireland and the tourism bodies have done.

    The skewing of funding towards all-island projects is not in the gift of NI to resolve. It also runs counter to any sense of equality enunciated in the 1998 Agreement. Discrimination?

    I’m not sure if I can find links to the behaviour of Tourism Ireland but perhaps both of us can have a go later.

  • George

    with all due respect, you have failed to show any evidence whatsoever that Tourism Ireland has failed and when I ask why you think the IDA would fail you offer the “failure” of Tourism Ireland as an example.

    Back to the question at hand. Why do you think the IDA, one of the top industrial development authorities on the planet, wouldn’t be up to the job if the powers that be in Northern Ireland give them the power to do it?

    I can understand if you say you don’t want to give them the power because the price isn’t worth the possible economic success. That’s of course if you actually tell me what the price is and how you come to that figure.

    Gillespie has no problem going up against the IDA if NI has a 12% corporate tax rate too but what if it doesn’t?

    He sees the answer in cooperation with the IDA, but it seems you see it in competition even on an uneven playing field against a top-class outfit.

    I would be interested in knowing what alternative you have because up until now NI has been the loser when competing against the IDA under these conditions.

  • Grouch

    Nevin seems to spend all his blogging time burying his head in an orange sandpit. George is right. Tourism Ireland works very well. Northern Ireland benefits a lot more from this org than it does from the totally inefficient NITB. If Nevin lifts his head above his knees he will see that we can only benefit by having the expertise of an org which is part of a very successful economy. An economy which 15 years ago was juxtaposed with us in economic prosperity terms.

    We need to look at all the benefits to be had by this new political dispensation. We need to milk our NS and EW relationships to feed our growth. Either Nevin is a narrow-minded bigot or he doesn’t fully understand the issues. I for one have had a lot of experience of the true benefit of Tourism Ireland. If Nevin really wants definitive answers, ask the hoteliers, etc.

    Linking or joining the IDA and INI would be great. When can we do it?

  • Nevin

    “If Nevin lifts his head above his knees he will see that we can only benefit by having the expertise of an org which is part of a very successful economy”

    Grouch (and George), er, Tourism Ireland was funded to work for the whole island, not for the RoI (aka Ireland).

    Take a look at the news releases on the Tourism Ireland site: NI barely gets a look-in until December 2004 two years after the releases began.

    IIRC one of the ‘anecdotes’ provided by the MLA contact referred to the Tourism Ireland exhibition at the World Travel Market in London in 2003. He said that there was no representation from NI, perhaps hardly surprising from an RoI based TI. He was cold shouldered at a travel exhibition in Dublin; the feeling conveyed was, “Why don’t you go back where you belong?”. Representations were made and the situation is better than it was but it needed a bit of ass-kicking to get the change made.

    Family history is one of my hobbies. TI has a webpage on genealogy: it puts a link to the National Library of Ireland but not to PRONI, one of our premier if rather inadequate family history sources. I put a proposal on GenTourism to NITB long before 2004, got no reply and it was only in 2004 when TI was pushed into taking a greater interest in NI that the GenTourism idea was developed alongside NITB.

    Anecdotes are helpful, especially when they come from those who use the services provided. Take a look at the flight info from the USA on the TI site. What are my Seattle relatives supposed to do? They want to get to Northern Ireland by air but there’s no means to search for flights from Seattle. It would suit them to be given such a facility and to be able to choose whether to arrive via Dublin, London or a mainland Europe hub.

    Gulliver is the online all-island booking system. I’ve done a check for Bushmills B&Bs; only two are listed for the entire district. This is a major vote of no confidence. Even the hapless NITB lists twenty-six on its site. My Seattle relatives also visit Scotland England so they would benefit from a Strand 3 rather than a Strand 2 portal.

    The all-island energy market got a mention on the BBC this morning. Apparently this will mean an increase in the NI domestic bills and a decrease in the RoI ones. Perhaps the Beeb got it wrong …

  • One thing that could be tried to boost the NI economy would be to pilot a dual currency experiment.
    NI is the only part of the UK to have a land border with the Eurozone.
    Many shops in Derry,for example, do accept the Euro.
    It would make sense for the Gordon Brown, cautious man that he is, to use NI as a test bed for the Euro.
    That would be one way of experimenting with an all island economy here in Ireland without threatening the constitutional link.

  • Nevin

    What’s the relevance of a land border, phil? Lots of folks arrive in the UK from the Euro zone by land, sea and air and I’m sure lots of businesses accept the pound and the Euro – when they’re not processing the plastic stuff.

  • George

    you have still failed to provide any evidence that Tourism Ireland is failing in its remit.

    Repeating the same unsubstantiated and frankly irrelevant anecdotes doesn’t change that fact.

    What you say a unionist MLA experienced in 2003 or the marketing of Bushmills B&Bs is irrelevant to this discussion.

    Give me facts and figures, not anecdotal evidence. Tell me what targets TI has failed to reach, what targets it should have.

    Where is it falling down and why?
    In what areas has it underachieved and what is your evidence for it?
    Provide tourist numbers and hotel booking figures.
    Cite sources from within the trade who back up your view.

    And you have still failed to address the IDA questions I put to you in post #31.

    Why are you right and leading economist Gillespie wrong on this one? What is your solution?

    P.S. The number of visitors from North America to NI increased by 17% in 2005 alone. You are providing anecdotes to back up your view, TI are providing tourists to fill the hotel rooms – lots of them.

    By the way, Northern Ireland now has its first direct flight from the US to Belfast. Tell your family to fly Continental Airlines with a changeover in Newark. No need to go to London or Dublin anymore. That happened on TI’s watch.

  • barnshee

    “you have still failed to provide any evidence that Tourism Ireland is failing in its remit”

    The need is for tourism ireland to PROVE that it has had an Impact -other than a few jobs provided for staff in NI(subject to the usual allegations of bias) to shut up a short, flatfaced, aggressive little shit of a politican- I can find no evidence that tourism Irlenad has achieved anything that Bord Failte had no already achieved

  • George

    If I called you a thief and a liar, it is for me to back it up with evidence, not for you to prove otherwise.

    Equally, if someone says Tourism Ireland has failed, it is for them to back it up with evidence.

    I see evidence was in short supply in your post too. Can you perhaps provide evidence that TI has failed in its remit?

    And forgetting TI for a moment, as we are actually supposed to be discussing the IDA. How about countering Gillespie’s argument about the IDA or, even better, offering an alternative.

  • barnshee

    ” see evidence was in short supply in your post too. Can you perhaps provide evidence that TI has failed in its remit?”

    I ask a simple question,
    I dont see any evidence
    There may be some

  • George

    I’m not the one saying TI has failed and I’m not a spokesperson for it.

    If someone comes up with the argument that the IDA will fail because TI “failed” without being able to show that:
    (a) TI has failed
    (b) there is a logical link between TI’s “failure” and the potential success of the IDA

    I think it prudent to first ask them to prove A before moving on to B. I didn’t put forward this wild hypothesis in the first place.

    I merely outlined Gillespie’s argument regarding the IDA which unionists seem to dismiss without being able to put forward a reason why – other than fear of the unknown that is.

    Care to argue against the actually tenet of the post, namely that the IDA could do a job for Northern Ireland that currently isn’t being done?

  • Phil Mac Giolla Bhain

    “What’s the relevance of a land border, phil? Lots of folks arrive in the UK from the Euro zone by land, sea and air and I’m sure lots of businesses accept the pound and the Euro – when they’re not processing the plastic stuff.”
    I stress NI’s land border with the Euro zone because that makes NI geographically unique within the Uk.
    It is not a factor to be so easily dismissed imho
    If you had lived,say,in Latterkenny travelling regularly to Serry for shopping then you might get what I mean.

  • ulsterfan

    The solution, if the job isn’t being done is unlikely to involve giving the job to a body from a foreign country, with inevitably different, if not conflicting priorities.

  • George

    but if you give the job to the IDA then that job becomes one of their priorities.

    Northern Ireland isn’t their priority now and the IDA are wiping the floor with you. That is where we are in 2007.

    For some reason, you think that the IDA is incapable of adapting its strategy to address this new job.

    On what do you base this?

    What makes you think that the IDA, with all its expertise, can’t market and get more investment than INI is at the moment?

    Also, what alternative do you offer considering if you aren’t going with the Gillespie option you will be competing with the IDA?

  • Nevin

    George, Gulliver is part of the Tourism Ireland process. If the dismal NITB can list 26 B&Bs and Gulliver can only come up with two that’s a fairly good measure of failure.

    “The number of visitors from North America to NI increased by 17% in 2005 alone.”

    So. What’s that got to do with Tourism Ireland and Gulliver? It seems from the Bushmills experience that visitors are mostly making their own arrangements – with a little help from NITB.

    Why should I have to explain the merits of Newark to my relations? They should be able to select Seattle and then be able to choose from the various routes to here.

    I directed you to the news archives on the Tourism Ireland site. There you can see for yourself why it was necessary to kick butt for about two years before they would pay some attention to NI instead of acting as promotion agency for the RoI.

    I’ve not looked at the IDA.

  • DK

    Phil – your arguement could just as easily be used to persuade the Republic to experiment with a dual currency with Sterling.

    Apart from the obvious (and massive) problem that the Euro and Sterling fluctuate against each other, how can you have any payments in Euro against your sterling account without incurring an awful exchange rate and probably some sort of charge? You cannot set up a direct debit or standing order between sterling and Euro. It’s not simple and will remain limited to shops taking advantage of/attracting cross border sales. They accept sterling on the other side of the border too…

  • DK

    “George, Gulliver is part of the Tourism Ireland process. If the dismal NITB can list 26 B&Bs and Gulliver can only come up with two that’s a fairly good measure of failure.”

    Nevin – how many sites in, say, Kerry does NITB list? None? Then maybe we are doing well that TI lists something in NI if we aren’t even bothering to list them. And I think that George’s stats out-weigh your anecdotes and a single website search on an engine that I, for one, have never heard of.

  • DK the euro is a much larger currency that Sterling-that is a no brainer.
    Making NI a dual currency area (Derry effectively is so at the moment) would be a way of building an all island economy as called for by dr.Gillespie and it would aslo allow the British tresuary tio consider the merits of the euro.
    It isnt a question if tthe ROI will join the sterling economy it is whether or not the Uk economy joins the Euro zone.

  • barnshee

    “Making NI a dual currency area”

    Euros taken freely all over NI– already a dual currency area

    “It isnt a question if tthe ROI will join the sterling economy it is whether or not the Uk economy joins the Euro zone.”

    Not the proverbial snowballs chance. Too much loss of influence over economic strategy (Gordons tests are designed never to be passed.)

  • Nevin

    DK, Tourism Ireland/Gulliver is supposedly an all-island operation; NITB isn’t.

    George’s stats do not relate to TI/Gulliver whereas mine for Bushmills do. Ballycastle doesn’t feature on Gulliver yet there are 28 B&Bs listed on NITB. Looks like the NITB investment in the all-island booking system was a poor decision.

  • George

    Gulliver is a privately-owned website so I really don’t understand what it has to do with Tourism Ireland failing in its remit.

    I see you are still refusing to address anything from my post #31 regarding the IDA and have yet to outline how TI has failed in its remit.

    Tell me what targets set for TI that TI has failed to achieve? It’s a simple question.

    Don’t tell me that TI has failed because a private website lists more B&Bs than the TI one does.

    TI is more than a website you know and believe it or not, you need more than a website offering B&Bs to attract tourists to a region.

    Considering nearly 200 million is being spent on promoting the island of Ireland over 3 years, I think your obsession with a website is more than a little odd.

    Can you explain why the numbers from North America are growing so strongly? Are you going to give Gulliver, who I have never heard of either, the credit for this?

    But most importantly, what about addressing the questions about the IDA? After all, this is what this thread is about.

  • Fraggle

    From their FAQ:

    5. Are Gulliver Ireland and Fáilte Ireland the same thing?

    No, Gulliver and Fáilte Ireland are two separate organisations. Gulliver Ireland is a private company and part of the International Foreign Exchange Company, Fexco. Fexco purchased the Gulliver system from Fáilte Ireland (then Bord Fáilte) and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board in 1997. The Tourist Bords retain a 26% shareholding of Gulliver Ireland.

  • This makes perfect sense. It is working in tourism and could work well in trade if we can get corporation tax harmonised also.

    More on

  • Nevin

    Gulliver was established by Bord Failte and NITB as a complement to Tourism Ireland, hence my TI/Gulliver. AFAIK TI is also a private company too.

    I don’t see why you’re linking TI to travel stats when so few B&Bs, for example, use the all-island booking system – and probably the tourists do too.

  • Nevin

    “It is working in tourism”

    Oh, dear. Another one …

  • Nevin

    Not quite separate in seems, Fraggle. The two tourist boards retain a share holding in Gulliver.

  • barnshee
    I take your point on Gordon Brown’s unpassable tests for the euro.
    However at some point UK based businesses will see that they are currently shut out of the Eurozone which is a much bigger economy than that of the uk