Francess McDonnell argues that it is the political inertia surrounding the institutions in Stormont that’s giving investors pause for thought at a time of huge global flux. In particular she hones in on the lack of productivity from that quarter in advance of what could otherwise be an useful opportunity to spotlight Northern Ireland’s potential in Washingon at the US-NI Economic Conference on October 19th:
Perhaps, before the conference, a few self-help classes might be in order. Among the first to attend should be the Executive’s subcommittee on the economy.
Set up in May, with a remit to “develop an economic strategy for the North” and chaired by Arlene Foster, the Northern Ireland Minister for Enterprise, it boasts the Ministers for Finance, Regional Development, and Education as members.
Foster says the committee has “made good progress” in agreeing a framework for an economic strategy but against the backdrop of a deteriorating local economy, there appears to be little urgency to confront the key problems facing the North.
Foster says it intends to have a new economic strategy “significantly developed by the end of this year and published by March 2011”. But in the meantime what is going to happen to the local economy? What measures will be put in place to safeguard jobs? Who will lead the charge in securing the economic recovery which the region so desperately needs and who is directing the response to the recession which is crippling local firms?
There have been plenty of talking shops convened by politicians to try and find solutions. But there have been few if any really helpful suggestions or decisions taken which have had any real impact on the ground.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty