Getting up earlier in the FDI morning is not poaching Arlene…

All’s fair in love, war and politics. So Arlene Foster (who, let’s remember was actually on the overall winning side of the Brexit argument) reckons there is a campaign to poach investors south of the border.

In one sense she is right. As John Campbell noted on Twitter picking up any future faltering investment in a post-Brexit UK is one of few compensating actions open to the Republic, and was marked as urgent from the start:

However most of this opportunity relates directly to London, rather than Northern Ireland, where the private sector is far more likely to be looking to expand its export markets on foot of a dropping pound rather be looking, in the short term, at least for what is likely to be very scarce FDI money.

In fact the poaching comment, according to John’s colleague, Julian O’Neill, appears to relate to the fact that the IDA have been getting meetings in before Invest NI:

This lag in performance and efficiency by Northern Irish institutions has been long established, and it stretches across from hard core FDI with local NI firms finding places on Irish trade missions, which is perhaps why some in the Republic reacted badly to another suggestion of Fosters:

Brendan Smith TD said no Irish Government, “irrespective of who is in office”, talks down Northern Ireland. “In fact, the opposite happens,” he added, before calling for “increased cooperation”.

Quite. It’s unlikely any of this is unknown to Mrs Foster, who was said to be in an ebullient mood at the weekend. On the up side, it looks like Simon Hamilton may be finally getting NI’s act together on FDI, establishing offices where the IDA have been for decades.

It’s high time Northern Ireland got past competing over rights and got on with competing for new opportunities. 

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

  • chrisjones2

    Yes and it gives lie to all the nonsense about a cross border approach on Brexit.The Irish, bless them, are our closest competitors and we need to realise that.Thye are sitting on the otehr side of the negotiating table and while we want to achieve a deal that suits everyone we should not fool ourselves

  • Kevin Breslin

    Hibernophobia is not working for Northern Ireland.

    For years and years, the Northern Ireland Parliament tried to hold its own, but eventually Terrence and Jack met one another and found a way they could still do business.

    Same Mountains, Same Rivers, Some of the Same problems.

    There is no escaping the fact that a hard Brexit makes the border more expensive for both sides, a bizarre act of British nationalism which in the end makes partition more of a physical problem.

    The worse problem is that unlike then, the leaders of unionism, the DUP are completely oblivious to the border that they want.

    Drones, big data, face recognition surveillance, ID cards; maybe @DUPleader wants to 'chip' us all as well in brave new NI! @NIAOpposition— Steve Aiken OBE MLA (@SteveAikenUUP) October 30, 2016

    Northern Ireland is more than welcome to develop a competitive advantage, there is an open economy and the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland share benefits from that. No unionist can deny that.

    The problem is that Northern Ireland does not have specific competitive advantages over Great Britain or the Republic of Ireland bar a few geologically aided mineral works such as rock salt mines or locations of natural beauty for TV programs.

    Northern Ireland’s main enemy is and has always been itself. At it’s worst it is a segregationist, narcissistic, judgmental backwater rather than its better side as the graceful engineering and industrial safe-haven of liberty (as interpreted by its government) its founders envisioned it to be.

    We need more global out-lookers like those days, not excuses for further entrenchment.

    Moaning about the Republic of Ireland “poaching our jobs” … just feels me with warm fuzzies that hardcore unionists in the DUP are pretty much conceding things.

    What if English, Scottish or Welsh companies are “poaching our jobs” … surely the same bitterness extends to them too?

    Well if you cannot beat them, join them … what really was the purpose for partition anyway?

  • Gingray

    Particularly those Irish in the west of NI – very close competitors 🙂

  • Anglo-Irish

    The Irish government and Irish business in general would be failing in their duties and responsibilities if they didn’t make every effort to attract as much business as possible into the country.

    It won’t just be Ireland attempting to persuade companies currently operating in the UK to relocate.

    This is one of the unfortunate results of Brexit and anyone who didn’t see it happening didn’t do a very good job of thinking things through.

    Previously, while all members of the same ‘club’ a certain level of cooperation and good mannered behaviour between countries was to everyone’s benefit.

    Following the referendum however all bets are off, everyone for themselves let’s see what can be acquired.

    The one that could do most damage is the financial sector, if France, Germany, Luxembourg or anyone else can persuade a significant proportion of The City to relocate then it would be catastrophic.

  • notimetoshine

    The problem is the southerners can wipe the floor with the North in terms of attracting fdi and that isn’t going to change any time soon.

    NI is going to have to work extra hard, and te political will and let’s be honest the political ability is lacking

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Of course the Dublin Government is going to turn Brexit into an opportunity for Ireland which will have opportunities for the wee six. The only purpose that la Foster seems hellbent on is reforging the old divisions, distrust and rivalries with ROI that once existed before the institution of the EU in 1993 and only were finally demolished by the GFA. Is she serious? Is she incapable of long term vision? Does she really want to create an Ulster Unionism that will turn in on itself and perpetually devour its own tail? Boy, does this girl revert to type when put in charge!
    Our only hope is that she is outstripped by Westminster & Dublin working in tandem and in healthy competition at her exclusion. Some leadership! Some vision!

  • Kevin Breslin

    Even if that advantage did go away, there’s 190 odd other nations on this planet, and tens of thousands of sub-national regions like Northern Ireland who are “poaching” jobs Northern Ireland could compete for.

    You know what’s bad for foreign direct investment though … xenophobia.

  • Declan Doyle

    It doesnt matter where investment lands as long its secured on the Island. People are capable of commuting or moving if necessary

  • Korhomme

    FDI? Is this the best we can do, expecting Johnny Foreigner to invest here?

    Here, we have been so reliant on government financed jobs that we have lost sight of the concept that industry, in the very broadest sense, is what actually provides tax revenues. (And yes, I was a government employee for decades.)

    Try looking to Switzerland. They didn’t expect FDI, they did it for themselves. Isn’t that a better model? Help ourselves first, don’t rely on others?

  • notimetoshine

    True, and why would you invest somewhere that is so backwards?

    The assembly has failed repeatedly to address infrastructure deficits, it’s failed at making NI more attractive to investors,

    I mean invest ni seems to have pumped money into poor quality BPO services. We could be the capital of call centres maybe…

  • ted hagan

    How to win friends and attract trade in the new high-powered Brexit era.
    Insult your neighbours.

  • mickfealty

    That’s just an article of mean faith EK, at least according to David McWilliams:

  • Katyusha

    No it doesn’t: it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy where the DUP intransigence makes them impossible to work with, and then they complain that they’re on their own against the world (because they don’t want to work with anyone).
    You need to read the OP again

    Brendan Smith TD said no Irish Government, “irrespective of who is in office”, talks down Northern Ireland. “In fact, the opposite happens,” he added, before calling for “increased cooperation”.

  • Katyusha

    Indeed, and those working in Dundalk and Letterkenny could easily be inclined to spend their hard-earned euros in Derry or Newry, which wouldn’t be the case if the FDI all goes to Limerick and Cork. If business is growing in either side of the border, it’s good for the border region as a whole. Shame the infrastructure is in such a poor state to make it difficult to take advantage of, though.

  • Teddybear

    If NI accounted for 85% of the UK population then all these concerns about Brexif and Border may have a basis.

    But 97.5% of UK population do not live in NI but on the mainland. Therefore to stymie or water-down Brexit for NI’s benefit is a classic case of a v small stubby tail wagging a v big dog indeed

  • chrisjones2

    And Irish white man speak with forked tongue

  • chrisjones2

    She didnt insult them – just described what they were doing

  • chrisjones2

    So is it SFs policy to make all the people of Derry, West Belfast etc move to Dublin?

    Is that really the SF line?

  • chrisjones2

    Actually its likelky to be the reverse of that which is why the Irish are so worried

  • chrisjones2

    No …dont be silly.The B specials have gone.Lets call them the C Specials and employ lots of Catholics to help run it. Wont that be richly ironic

  • Angry Mob

    “Well, I don’t believe in a hard border and am happy to welcome shoppers looking for a bargain from across the border anytime they want to come!” – Arlene Foster

    Hard to see where customs posts and the B specials fit in your own version.

  • chrisjones2

    I have news for you ….he is a politician and thats plain bollox as we say in de Nortth. Given the choice of 200 jobs in Derry and 200 in Cork where do you think he will want them placed?

  • ted hagan

    Oh yea? Who are you trying to kid?

  • chrisjones2

    What if English, Scottish or Welsh companies are “poaching our jobs” …

    oh they are too and we respect that and compete with them as we will compete with Irleand

  • ted hagan

    That’s just being crass. I’m a Northern Protestant, went to work in Dublin. Best move I ever made. It makes sense for all parties if both north and south are strong economically.

  • John Collins

    He was the man who advised Brian Lenihan to act as he did the night of the bank guarantee. I would have very little faith in anything he would say.

  • John Collins

    Go on Ted. How nice to see the voice of reason and maturity breaking through. The people of the island as a whole, despite the border, have a lot more in common than the things that divide them.

  • John Collins

    Well I am not sure about that. The more prosperous either side of this island is, the better it is for the other overall.

  • Declan Doyle

    Ideally u are correct but lets be real here, far better to move to Kerry if necessary rather than have to pack up to England or mainland Europe. And what matter if one has to commute from newry to dundalk, derry to letterkenny or indeed vice versa?

  • Declan Doyle

    Fair play. ????

  • Zig70

    This is all great stuff, Arlene swiping at the south. creating the pan-nationalist front that they couldn’t manage on their own, highlighting the fact that the Irish economy is storming ahead 3 times as fast as the north. Next she’ll complain that the roads are too smooth down Mexico way. All we need now is the conservatives to screw up the health service with privatisation plans and it will be job done. Fiddle anyone? Where’s that SF/FF coalition when you need it.

  • eireanne3

    and the A specials certainly didn’t – they were the elite – the only ones with full-time, full pay work who could not be posted outside their home areas

  • mickfealty

    It’s utterly irrelevant what you or anyone thinks of David, he has a *very* strong point on costs. This Brexit will not be tempered to suit the Republic.

  • eireanne3

    But the republic with 26 other EU states will probably “temper” this Brexit

  • aquifer

    The London City financial sector emigrating to Dublin could kinda do an Orange Unionist’s head in, capitalist English Tories rushing in where Ulster fundamentalists fear to tread. And where now for the soldiers socialist republic? Headmelting stuff.

  • Declan Doyle

    And thats a case for a personal budget plan, no different to any other expense

  • Old Mortality

    ‘Comparing RoI to whole of the UK isn’t the same as comparing RoI to NI.’
    Why not, both are sovereign economic entities while NI is not. ‘Multinationals don’t consider slightly cheaper fridges and white goods when picking places to establish a European base.’
    No, they are more interested in not paying tax which means that a large share of national income makes a nugatory contribution to public sector revenues. The result is a higher fiscal burden for indigenous business and individuals alike. surprised McWilliams failed to point that out but perhaps you have a more rigorous analysis to offer.

  • Old Mortality

    The obvious answer would be to move to Kerry if the jobs are there but that’s not the Derry way is it? Why go away looking for work when you can just stay at home and collect benefits?

  • Adam Martin

    It’s not something she can prove.More importantly, it’s not something she has to prove as Unionists will gladly accept it as truth.

  • mac tire

    Slapped down by a Protestant from the north, Chris. He shares the same fears as I do. We are on the same page in that sense. I’m a ‘cultural Catholic’ and I stand by his side.

    Remember that he next time you pretend to speak for the Protestants, Unionists, Nationalists, Republicans and none of those here.

    We are the 56% in this part of Ireland/UK. We’ll stand side by side.

  • Nevin

    Mick, your endorsement of Brendan Smith’s claim needs a little qualification. In the realm of tourism, I recollect his FF colleague John O’Donoghue, the then Irish tourism minister, being presented as the boss of Tourism Ireland. You might also recall that Arlene, as the then NI minister for tourism, got one day’s notice of The Gathering 2013. Co-operation, how are you.

  • chrisjones2

    And, after a meeting with Gerrry, Edna’s annopuncemnet of an all Ireland forum on Brexit which the FM found out about from media

  • chrisjones2

    I agree.

    Ireland stands at very high risk of being utterly shafted by its EU colleagues

  • chrisjones2

    Its in all our interets that they do but the Commission takes a a harder line as its failures led directyly to this situation and it is having to manage the fall out – for example the Poles telling them to get their noses our of judicial appoinments and the courts in Poland

  • chrisjones2

    Lets be clear – I speak for me and if you look at my posts on issues like the OO an the DUP you will see that

  • chrisjones2

    I agree…..but is it SFs policy to tell people in the North that the may have to just move to the Republic to get work? People need to know

  • chrisjones2

    And again I agree……but you try telling a Derry Man or his mother that he has to live and work 120 miles away from home

  • chrisjones2

    When house prices in Ireland were stupid many people were commuting to Irish twons (even north Dublin) from Northern Ireland and good luck to them

  • chrisjones2

    I agree and we want a Brexit that benefits both ……but if the EU will not let us acheive it we will be in a different competitive situation not of our own makings

  • Katyusha

    Much better than working and living thousands of miles from home, don’t you agree?

  • Gingray

    The difference being, he knows where Derry is, and will be able to talk about things in Northern Ireland.

    No UK Government Minister, even the Secretary of State, has the knowledge, interest or desire to work on behalf of Northern Ireland. They just do not care.

  • Gingray

    Surely at this point its time to accept that Northern Ireland has been a failure and without drastic change its future economically is grim. Our industries, values and population skills and age profile are similar to the Republic, but instead of looking south for inspiration, the focus is always on England, which continues to be a recipe for disaster.

    The South has benefited from major investment in infrastructure, with over 1000km of motorways linking Dublin to Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Galway and Dundalk, with interconnections in between. In Northern Ireland we have 110km of motorway, with Derry, Strabane, Limavady, Omagh, Enniskillen, Armagh, Newry all poorly served.

    Of course who needs roads, when Brexit has us abandoning free trade with our neighbours (including Canada now to the west) in the hope that we can ship cheap food stuffs from the other side of the world – which will destroy the looking farming sector.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I got a feeling the UK will get EU minus … basically sign up to EU law, some little loop holes to let them try to get cheaper New Zealand lamb for British jam , but no MEPs, no Council say and an ongoing debate over whether the nation really was “Better off Out” rather than “Bitter off Out”.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Given the choice between 200 jobs in Derry or 200 jobs in Derby, where would you think Enda would prefer the jobs go to.

    If football tells us anything the Republic poaches a hell of a lot more from the English than they do from the North.

  • Gingray

    Kevin – initially I would have agreed with you, but I do not see Europe being as cooperative as I first thought. At the very least England would need to pay in, similar to Norway and Switzerland, and accept freedom of movement, but would that be enough for the little englanders?

  • Leon O’Searcach

    Northern Ireland simply does not compete, it has no network nor expertise, this is a fallacy.

  • Gingray

    I completely agree – and that is one of the major problems that Northern Ireland faces. The steps we need to take to change the economy in Northern Ireland, with or without Brexit, are drastically different to those needed in England Scotland and Wales.

    But we are tied into a UK economy in which we are only 2.5% of the population, and for which measures will be taken (cheap agricultural products, border controls, strong potential for no free trade with EU) which will actually further weaken our main sectors.

    The EU has been good for Northern Ireland in ways that the UK Government has not (and cannot perhaps – there are no votes in Belfast for Tory or Labour, and thus no incentive to care).

  • billypilgrim1

    “Is she serious?”

    – Yes, if your question is whether she really means it. No, if your question is whether or not she is a serious person.

    “Is she incapable of long term vision?”

    – Yes.

    “Does she really want to create an Ulster Unionism that will turn in on itself and perpetually devour its own tail?”

    – Yes.

    See the fable of the scorpion and the frog. This appears to be the essential nature of unionism.

    The sad thing is that by all accounts, Arlene Foster is an otherwise very capable person. She would probably make a very able senior minister in an Irish government. The problem is unionism, and the Northern Ireland state it exists to prop up. It poisons and corrupts everything it touches, including the performance of naturally talented politicians like Arlene.

  • billypilgrim1

    You’re correct in what you say about NI’s significance to the UK as a whole.

    But how on earth do you think it’s in NI’s best interests to remain in the UK? Surely being in the UK is economically and politically suicidal?

  • Gingray

    I know plenty of Derry people working in Belfast, some who have moved up, some who commute.

    Very few go the other way, which is a symptom of the problems Northern Ireland faces.

  • Katyusha

    What? You do realise you are talking about a place that is famous for emigration? If you want to see a culture where people would stay at home and lift benefits rather than even move to a neighbouring county, never mind country, for work, it’s England you need to be looking at.

    But while surely it may be nice for you to fantasise about depopulating Derry, some people would actually like to keep their city alive.

    Why not go further and encourage all of NI to move to where the jobs are? Not like there’s any real future in staying in NI, right? Better to just depopulate the place.

  • AntrimGael

    I know many are dreading the return of trade and security borders but part of me also wants the worst, hardest, most difficult Brexit going to make life as difficult as possible for Britain and show up the ridiculous nature of partition on this small island. It will bring reunification back on to the agenda and this will garner sympathy on the international arena. Furthermore who can blame the South for trying to attract investment away from Britain and the North? For all their faults the South has both a very good diplomatic and home civil service and extremely effective investment bodies who know how to do their job. I would imagine they have been working on this long before the Brexit vote was known. Let Britain stew in it’s inward looking bigotry and xenophobic racism and let the failed political and economic Northen statelet fall in on itself. You reap what you sow!

  • John Collins

    Well I probably would be able to tell them what it was like to live and work 120 miles from my native place. I first left home,
    a hillside farm in West Limerick, as a seventeen year old to work in a building site in London and then I returned to work in North Dublin, about 160 miles from home. I was just happy to have a job, with reasonable prospects, anywhere in this island, rather that in London.