Government papers released on Friday under the 30/20 year rule document a flurry of activity around 1994 as departments tried to put figures on the economic impact of a “sudden cessation of violence” in Northern Ireland.
Against the background of what was described as “the ‘peace’ debate”, file DED/22/234 from the Department of Economic Development (DED) details their broad estimates of the likely effect on employment. While judging that the figures were “highly speculative” – one official supplied what he called a ‘back of envelope’ analysis into the process – they concluded in the autumn of 1994 that “over the longer term, job gains will outweigh job losses”.
An increase in inward investment was predicted to lead to 5-10,000 extra jobs over five years, rising to as many as 26,000 over the decade. A growth in exports and cross-border trade, previously stymied by violence, could create “an additional 2,500-5,00 jobs”. And an increase in tourists could generate 20,000 more jobs.
On the down side, security-related job losses in public and private sectors – some with high salaries but many suspected to offer lower wages – were expected to be in the range of 8,000 immediately, and 17,000 in the longer term.
The CBI estimated a net increase of 20,000 jobs over five year, in line with the DED’s estimates.
DED officials indicated that they would prefer the Secretary of State to “emphasise the positive effects which would come from greater tourism, more inward investment, greater local and international business confidence” rather than talk about “security job losses – much too early to talk of this”.
In 20 years’ time, will we be reading freshly-released government papers documenting departmental views on the Brexit Dividend? [Ed – or will it be in this weekend’s Sunday Times?]
Check out Slugger’s further coverage of the official papers released yesterday.
Alan Meban. Tweets as @alaninbelfast. Blogs about cinema and theatre over at Alan in Belfast. A freelancer who writes about and reports from civic, academic and political events, reviews cultural performances, chairs discussions, and live-tweets, streams and records lectures and conferences. He delivers social media training, coaching and consultancy, produces podcasts, is a member of Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland, FactCheckNI board member, and is a member of the Corrymeela Community.