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Villiers backs call for Northern Ireland link to 'northern powerhouse' project

Linking Northern Ireland into Chancellor George Osborne's so-called "northern powerhouse" project is a good idea, Theresa Villiers has said.

The Northern Ireland Secretary said she would raise the issue with Mr Osborne to potentially include the region in plans for economic regeneration in the north of England.

She was responding to DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, who said such a move could be of mutual benefit to Northern Ireland and the rest of the country following the "fresh start" political agreement reached last week.

Mr Osborne's "northern powerhouse" project is designed to boost growth in the north, particularly around cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool, in an effort to rebalance the UK economy.

During Northern Ireland questions in the Commons, Mr Dodds said: "Following the fresh start agreement will you talk to your colleagues, particularly the Chancellor, along with the Northern Ireland Executive, about how Northern Ireland could be linked in to the 'northern powerhouse' to our mutual benefit?"

Ms Villiers replied: "I think that's a very good idea to consider, I will certainly raise that with the Chancellor, and I think the proposals set out in the economic pact agreed between the Executive and the Government a couple of years ago demonstrate that the two administrations are working more closely together than ever before.

"But including a 'northern powerhouse' element to that is a good idea."

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