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'Different hymn sheets' for Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness on trade mission

Published 14/03/2016

First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have expressed their condolences to the family of motorcyclist Malachi Mitchell-Thomas.
First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have expressed their condolences to the family of motorcyclist Malachi Mitchell-Thomas.

The First and Deputy First Ministers are presenting totally different investment scenarios to Americans, the Ulster Unionists claimed.

Divisions over Brexit have left Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness singing from different hymn sheets on the economy, Lord Reg Empey alleged.

The leaders are promoting a reduced rate of corporation tax during their US visit. The tax cut was agreed as part of the Fresh Start deal and is due to take effect in 2018.

Lord Empey said: "The elephant in the room in America is that the first ministers disagree on our future place inside or outside the European Union. What are US business people to make of the joint leaders of an administration advocating totally different scenarios for investment?

"While both positions are perfectly legitimate, surely potential investors are entitled to ask what they might be getting involved in when Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness are singing from different hymn sheets?"

Democratic Unionists are campaigning for Britain to leave the EU ahead of the June 23 referendum. Sinn Fein said the north should stay in.

The value of the pound has plummeted amid uncertainty surrounding the poll.

Executive ministers hope to use reduced corporation tax to lure in foreign investors. Companies in Northern Ireland will have profits taxed at 12.5% compared to 19% in the rest of the UK.

The US is the largest investor in Northern Ireland, with nearly 180 US companies employing nearly 24,000 people.

Mrs Foster and Mr McGuinness are promoting the new tax powers to potential investors in Washington DC, New York and Silicon Valley.

She said: "We have a highly educated and talented work force which combined with our low cost base and the support we can provide for job creation, training, research and development means we have a strong proposition."

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers travelled to Washington DC on Monday.

"I am also delighted that it was this government that passed legislation to enable the devolution of corporation tax which could have such a transformative effect on the Northern Ireland economy.

"The Fresh Start and Stormont House agreements have placed devolved government on a more stable and sustainable footing.

"There are some issues still to be resolved but I am confident that we can find an agreed way forward to address the legacy of Northern Ireland's past and build a brighter, more secure future for everyone."

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