Major US-led jobs boost on cards
Published 17/10/2009 | 00:00
Northern Ireland is set to receive major US investment creating potentially hundreds of jobs, it was revealed last night.
Details of the high-profile project are yet to be unveiled, but the dramatic move is being seen as a vote of confidence in the peace process despite the delays in devolving policing and justice powers to the Stormont Assembly.
The planned announcement comes only days after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met politicians in Belfast for talks.
Mrs Clinton praised the power-sharing government led by the DUP and Sinn Fein as a positive example to other regions struggling to overcome conflict.
She also used her visit to encourage the parties to bolster the peace process by agreeing a final deal on devolving responsibility for policing and justice from Westminster to Stormont.
Mrs Clinton said the US remained in support of the peace process and predicted that greater political stability would pave the way for further international investment. The planned jobs announcement is understood to be linked to a high-profile project.
Stormont politicians have spent years lobbying American political and business leaders to invest in Northern Ireland. In 2007, the then First Minister and DUP leader Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein, made the historic decision to lead their parties into joint administration.
America was the scene for some of the most striking images of the early days of the partnership, when the former political enemies were repeatedly pictured together as they met a series of high-profile US figures. Both Mr Paisley and Mr McGuinness are said to have impressed their American hosts by their decision to show a united front despite the concerns of some of their grassroots supporters.
In May 2008 the US-Northern Ireland Investment Conference brought industry leaders from 80 American companies to be briefed on investment potential on these shores.
And by the end of that year, Mr McGuinness, together with the newly installed DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson, held the first of a further series of US visits to argue the case for inward investment.
In recent weeks the DUP and Sinn Fein have been locked in negotiations with Prime Minister Gordon Brown on devolving policing and justice powers from Westminster to Stormont.