Northern Ireland banking sector showing signs of upturn after recession
Northern Ireland's banking sector is showing signs of recovery despite suffering more during the recession than the rest of the United Kingdom, a Treasury minister has insisted.
Financial Secretary Sajid Javid told a Westminster committee there was evidence the banks had been lending more in the last year after taking a double battering in the economic crisis.
"Overall I think Northern Ireland is open for business," he told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. Committee members are holding an inquiry into the banking system in the region and have already heard evidence from representatives of banks that operate in Northern Ireland.
Asked by Labour MP Kate Hoey why efforts to boost lending had not been as successful in Northern Ireland as in the rest of the UK, Mr Javid said: "I think, in fairness, Northern Ireland was hit at both ends – with the crisis in the UK and an even bigger banking crisis in the Republic of Ireland."
Mr Javid said when the Government agreed to lend the Republic £3.2bn at the height of its difficulties in 2010 it was influenced by the need to protect NI's cross-border economic links.
"I do think over the last year especially the banking sector overall in the UK, including Northern Ireland, has improved considerably in terms of its access to capital," he said.