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:
Irish govt set out its 'poaching' stall on the day of the Brexit vote in its contingency plan pic.twitter.com/MdYxT9gC2o
— JPCampbellBiz – Wash your hands keep your distance (@JP_Biz) October 31, 2016
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:
Poaching comment may stem from recent US trade trip. Told @SimonHamilton turned up at FDI leads to learn "Irish had been there ahead of us."
— Julian O'Neill (@julianoneill) October 31, 2016
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