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Stormont crisis: Business chiefs sound warning against return to direct rule

By John Mulgrew

Published 11/09/2015

Eamonn Donaghy says direct rule would be a backward step
Eamonn Donaghy says direct rule would be a backward step

A return to direct rule would be an "enormously retrograde step" for Northern Ireland's economy, a business group has warned.

Northern Ireland's businesses and employers issued a call for Stormont's MLAs and ministers to stay in their jobs, focus on building the economy and introduce a low rate of corporation tax.

The call came from Grow NI, headed by Eamonn Donaghy, which represents groups and companies employing more than 200,000 staff.

"The direct and indirect benefits of reducing the rate of corporation tax will mean thousands of jobs, increased training and apprenticeships and increased funding for local government through extra rates," he said.

"As the cost of not implementing lower corporation tax grows by the day, it is vital that MLAs and NI Executive ministers get on with the job of introducing a lower rate."

Grow NI has been behind a campaign to lower Northern Ireland's corporation tax rate to make it more competitive with businesses in the Republic.

The devolution of the business tax to the Assembly has already gone through Westminster, with the powers due to come into effect as early as April 2017.

But that's now been kicked down the road indefinitely amid the crisis at Stormont.

"We know that companies abroad have already deferred, sometimes permanently, decisions to invest in Northern Ireland," Mr Donaghy said.

"This is reducing the level of employment and average wage and is directly contributing to increased inequality for people living here.

"A lower rate will allow businesses across Northern Ireland to create more jobs and also makes it much easier for us to compete internationally for investment and employment.

"A return to direct rule would make devolution of corporation tax legally impossible and economically would be an enormously retrograde step."

The five main parties have supported the group's pledge for a reduced rate of corporation tax here. And call for political stability came after a host of groups, firms and the banking industry spoke out about the "uncertainty" here.

Business groups said unpredictability is pushing out investment from abroad, hitting job creation and causing firms here to be cautious about investment.

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