Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 1 November 2014

Editor's Viewpoint: Cashing in on our good news stories

A short time ago First Minister Peter Robinson complained that the media in Northern Ireland tends to focus on negative stories rather than on good news.

He is, of course, entitled to his view and politicians have been given a rough ride at times when their performance has fallen below expected standards.

But this newspaper is glad to celebrate good news when it is to be found and today we are giving substantial publicity to three very positive stories about the province.

The £250m investment in a new Belfast campus for the University of Ulster has been well signposted, yet it is difficult not to be impressed by the scale of the proposed development. Not only is it a huge undertaking, but it will also be a breathtaking addition to the city skyline and a massive boost to the regeneration of a badly run down area.

For the students who will eventually occupy the campus, it promises to be a state-of-the-art centre of excellence producing the well-educated graduates needed to drive forward the economy of future decades.

In the immediate future this project will be a Godsend to the construction industry, creating up to 7,000 jobs over six years. And it will have an economic spin-off for the rest of the economy, generating an estimated £1bn.

This investment, largely funded by private finance which will speed up the completion of the project, is a tremendous sign of faith in the city and its impact should be felt for many years to come.

It may have taken years to get the go-ahead, but the new visitor centre at the Giant's Causeway is being built with all possible haste, partly in an effort to cash in on the Irish Open at nearby Portrush this summer.

Tourism authorities hope the centre will boost visitor numbers to the Giant's Causeway, a World Heritage site, to 645,000. That would be a magnificent return given that tourism is one of the growth areas in the economy with the most immediate potential.

Another tourist attraction, the dry dock where the ill-fated Titanic was fitted out, is also to be given a cash injection to protect it from the sea and make it more integral part of the whole Belfast Titanic experience. The Thompson Graving Dock is an imposing piece of heritage and it is fitting that it should be upgraded at this time when interest in all things maritime in Belfast are at their height.

These projects collectively create an air of optimism even at a time of economic uncertainty.

Certainly there is plenty of bad news about with businesses closing and people fearing for the future.

However Northern Ireland does have its advocates and people of vision who believe it is a place well worth investing in and for that we should be very grateful.

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