Seeds of recovery faint but visible in Northern Ireland economy
For the past three months, the early signs of an upturn in the economy have been emerging.
At this stage, there is no reason to say that the worst is completely over but, with some safety, the official evidence shows that the long recession is easing.
For Northern Ireland the early signs of recovery are welcome. The recession has been deep and longer lasting than any recession in recent years. Events have conspired to make the recession not only one of the deepest in living memory but worse here than across the rest of the UK.
Only when developments in Northern Ireland are compared with events in the Republic of Ireland is there a slight reassurance that the other part of this island has had a somewhat more traumatic period than up here.
Why has the recession been so deep? Partly because Northern Ireland had a bigger expansion 'bubble' than regions in GB, stimulated by mistakenly supportive credit expansion from banks and a fear that planning rules were going to frustrate expansion.
Any hope that the Irish economies will regain the momentum of the years before 2006 faces the enduring frustration of pervasive negative equity in the property market to a much greater degree than in England.
The seeds of recovery can be found, sometimes only faint, most in the service industries, including retailing and leisure spending. The need for a united community, building a stronger economy, remains paramount.