Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Extra cash to help economy possible

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers has hinted at more funding to boost Northern Ireland's economy

Additional funds may be made available to boost Northern Ireland's economy, Theresa Villiers revealed.

She stressed it was up to Stormont's ministerial Executive to work with Westminster to tackle issues like sectarianism and creating a shared future.

The Northern Ireland Secretary said her meeting in Belfast with First Minister Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore was very positive.

"This package is about working together with the Executive, the economic package is a good opportunity to take forward initiatives to meet those goals," she said afterwards.

"Our ability to help is not simply transfer of funding, though additional funds may be part of it, it is about economic reform and working together to make life better for people in Northern Ireland."

London and Belfast ministers have been in talks about economic reforms including devolving the ability to vary the amount of corporation tax paid by large companies to make Northern Ireland more attractive to inward investors.

Ms Villiers is also keen for the Executive to make progress on contentious issues like healing divisions between Catholics and Protestants following months of rioting over changes to the flying of the Union Flag over Belfast city hall.

Stormont ministers are planning to make announcements soon, the press conference heard.

The Northern Ireland Secretary said: "They have got even bigger plans which I am sure in due course they will want to share with the people of Northern Ireland as they are thinking in very ambitious ways about how to bridge long-standing sectarian divisions."

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