Rumours that the campaign to devolve corporation tax setting powers to Northern Ireland is dead are wrong, the chairman of one of the most influential business organisations has said.
Ian Coulter, speaking in Titanic Belfast at the annual CBI lunch, said the departure of Owen Paterson as Secretary of State, a strong proponent of cutting the tax, does not weaken the business-led bid.
He said his replacement, Theresa Villiers, "said she wants to see it happen if at all possible".
"Rumours of its death have been greatly exaggerated," Mr Coulter said.
"The facts are that the battle to secure it is now entering its final phase. CBI Northern Ireland - and I believe I am speaking for all the business bodies on this - are determined this battle will be won."
In a rousing battle cry designed to renew the campaign the chairman, who is also managing partner of law firm Tughans, said he rejected outright the notion that by allowing Northern Ireland to set its own tax rate Scotland should also be given the same powers.
"The chasm between the Scottish and the Northern Irish economies and cases couldn't be clearer," he said, pointing out that Scotland's productivity per head equals the UK average while Northern Ireland lags far behind.
He said Northern Ireland should be taken on its own merits, that "technical issues" should be worked out so as to make any offer to the Executive on the devolution of business tax affordable and willed a positive statement from the joint ministerial working group in October.
Mr Coulter said a decision must be made in the December 5 Treasury pre-budget statement. And he said he felt empathy with Prime Minsister David Cameron's determination to "cut through the dithering that holds back the country".
"We share his frustration. We look forward to an end to such dithering and to Northern Ireland being given the tools to start standing on its own two feet. This can be done. It is a matter of pure political will," he said.