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McGuinness 'instrumental in luring major companies to Northern Ireland'

By Margaret Canning

Martin McGuinness has been praised for the contribution his "warmth and openness" made to the local economy.

Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton said the former First Minister's pleasant personality had been instrumental in persuading companies to set up here.

Mr Hamilton, who last year joined Mr McGuinness and Arlene Foster on a trade mission to New York, Washington DC and San Francisco, stressed: "During his time as Deputy First Minister, and throughout his political career, Martin was a friend of business and worked tirelessly in support of our efforts to attract international investment and help our local companies to grow their exports.

"Over the past 10 years I had many opportunities to work with Martin, both at home and in international markets.

"His warmth and openness helped to persuade many new investors to locate in Northern Ireland and create jobs and investment."

A spokeswoman added that because Mr Hamilton was out of the country, he would not be attending Mr McGuinness's funeral today.

The Federation of Small Business (FSB), Northern Ireland Chamber and Retail NI also paid tribute to Mr McGuinness.

Ann McGregor, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber, said the organisation was "very saddened" by his death.

"Over the years he developed into a real statesman and his contribution to the peace process is well recognised," she added.

"However, he also worked to create jobs through his international work and involvement in trade missions, making a major contribution to the development of the economy."

FSB NI policy chair Wilfred Mitchell added: "Martin McGuinness engaged with the FSB in his role as Deputy First Minister with a strong interest in the future of local small businesses.

"He was instrumental in bringing about political stability through the peace process, which enabled the Northern Ireland economy to normalise.

"Mr McGuinness was a key advocate for the devolution of corporation tax powers to Northern Ireland to encourage investment in the future.

"Our thoughts are with his wife and family at this difficult time."

And Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI, said: "On behalf of Retail NI, I would like to extend condolences to Martin's family and friends. Martin was always a pleasure to work with and his passing is a big loss.

"Retail NI had an excellent working relationship with Martin and he took a keen interest in our policy priorities.

"Martin launched our 2016 Programme for Government and always made time for Retail NI and our members."

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