Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

US envoy pledges investment for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland's new US economic envoy has vowed to do everything in his power to attract US inward investment to Northern Ireland.

Irish-American Declan Kelly was appointed to his new role by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday.

Less than three days later on a whistle-stop tour of Belfast, he said his boss was “overwhelming personally and politically committed to Northern Ireland” and getting US companies to invest here.

Investment Minister Arlene Foster said US companies had invested £823m in Northern Ireland since 2002. In total, US firms employed 14,000 people in Northern Ireland.

Mr Kelly said his role would be a “listening and learning” one in the early stages. But he said he was confident he could secure results.

“By the time we are gone, we will have made a significant difference in this region.”

But he said there was “no magic formulae or wand” to force banks to start lending.

Mr Kelly, a former journalist from Co Tipperary, said he would not be venturing into a political role — unlike George Mitchell, who began his long relationship with Northern Ireland as an economic envoy and ended chairing political talks which culminated in the Good Friday Agreement.

“I am not a politician and I have no desire to be one.”

He could not say when the Secretary of State would visit, “I am sure she wants to come here as soon as her diary allows, but I can say she is overwhelmingly committed both personally and politically.”

Kamala Lakhdair was appointed to her now role as US Consul General for Northern Ireland while Louis Susman began his role as US Ambassador in the UK.

Ms Foster said: “We do not underestimate the importance of the role of the US in helping us achieve our trade goals as we aim to help companies survive the downturn.”

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