“Transactions with these related companies are conducted on an arms length basis.”

In Wednesday’s Belfast Telegraph David Gordon detailed some of the links between Invest NI board members and the companies which received grants in 2008/9. More details in the Invest NI annual report 2008/9 [pdf file]. From the Belfast Telegraph.

Economic development quango Invest NI paid grants to a number of companies linked to its own board members last year, it has been revealed. The agency has stressed that such transactions with bodies connected to its Government-appointed board members are “inevitable”.

As Newton Emerson says in today’s Irish News [subs req]

Invest NI has once again dismissed concerns that it funds firms linked to its own board, by claiming that Northern Ireland’s small size makes this “inevitable”. In occasional and exceptional circumstances, perhaps. But 34 grants linked to 14 out of 15 board members in a year? Maybe the problem is not that Northern Ireland is too small but that Invest NI is too big.

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  • Jivaro

    Both are true. Northern Ireland is far too small to support the enormous public sector quangocracy without conflicts of interest being endemic as a small but charmed circle of people sit in judgement on each other’s grant applications. Invest NI is one such example, but there are others.
    InvestNI dominates the innovation/ entrepreneurship world but there are others: the arts/culture, sports, human rights/law , and more. The closeness of it all feels a little, well, fetid.
    At the same time, there is something self-evidently risible about the cosy world of InvestNI, where a crowd of cosseted public sector bureaucrats sit in judgement on matters of innovation and entrepreneurship, all the while being sucked up to by grant-hunting supplicants.
    Better, perhaps, if innovation and entrepreneurial activity was stimulated via tax breaks available to all rather than through the existing quango/gatekeeper system.
    In any case, there is a real need for some serious digging into sociological origins of the members of these publicly-funded quango networks, and the social and educational links that sustain them.

  • The Raven

    “there is a real need for some serious digging into sociological origins of the members of these publicly-funded quango networks”

    Jivaro, I say this with all due respect. There isn’t any need at all. Because it will take months, and inevitably, in a couple of years time, it will only be 6 out of 14 people getting the grants. What it needs is “…activity..stimulated via tax breaks available to all rather than through the existing quango/gatekeeper system.”

    Having tried to have this discussion about, for example, rate breaks for independent retailers, or about BIDS, I can tell you now, there is more chance of getting INI abolished than seeing this implemented.