Belfast Telegraph

Robinson warns of economic 'ripple'

Both Northern Ireland and the Republic will suffer in international eyes from the collapse of the Republic's economy, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Peter Robinson has said.

Mr Robinson said economic ties across the island, plus the overseas reputation of the 'Ireland' brand name, would have a combined impact north of the border.

With Stormont politicians also under pressure to agree a budget following the cuts imposed by London, he said he hoped a deal could be reached before Christmas.

Mr Robinson said Northern Ireland would inevitably be affected as the Republic gets ready to introduce its own multibillion-euro cuts as well as take on an 85 billion euro (£72 billion) international bailout package.

He said: "Northern Ireland has suffered along with everywhere else worldwide because of the banking crisis. We will be hurt much more than anywhere else as a result of the problems in the Irish Republic. The ripples are going to touch Northern Ireland.

"Not only is the Republic a massive trading partner of Northern Ireland, not only are there jobs that flow across the border. (But) with the construction industry, when jobs dry up in Northern Ireland, people can move down to the Republic. That is going to be tightened up considerably with the reduction in their capital spend."

Mr Robinson added that Britain's proposed seven billion euro loan to the Republic must coincide with a reduction in Northern Ireland's rate of corporation tax to compete with the 12.5% low rate south of the Irish border.

He also said cross-party discussions at Stormont on a new Northern Ireland budget were progressing well while a British government paper on corporation tax changes in the region was due before the end of the year.

"We are in intense discussions at the present time, there is a lot of common ground as to how the budget should be shaped," he said of the multi-party talks at Stormont.

"We're in agreement on the areas that we want to protect. I would like to see us having a draft budget agreed before the end of this year - before Christmas - and then put it through the Assembly during the course of January."

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