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Does anyone care about losing those millions?

I saw this on the BBC Northern Ireland News website on Monday: 'Government departments handed back around £75m. This includes £30m from the Department of Enterprise, about half of which was not spent by Invest Northern Ireland'.

What is the matter with Northern Ireland people? Can it really be true that no one in Northern Ireland was sufficiently smart to put together a business plan which could support investment (for nothing) of a piece of £15m?

Everyone I talk to in Northern Ireland tells me it's in a terrible situation: property prices tumbling, businesses closing, unemployment accelerating. The only vaguely consoling notion is the strong suspicion that the south is doing even worse.

But it's completely self-inflicted. I knew a businessman in Portstewart who once told me, "Bombs and bullets, bombs and bullets. That's what drives the economy."

He was absolutely right. And now, suddenly, all that has stopped and the charity money from the UK and Europe starts to dry up and no one knows what to do.

I left Northern Ireland in 1973 to see if the wider world thought differently. Guess what? It does. The business 'community' isn't even good enough to win £15m of Government handouts to put at least 1,000 people into work. Yet everyone expects the outside world to take them seriously.

Maybe you just don't care. Maybe the 100% inward focus over the last 40 years has stuck and the vested interests are happy to wallow in their own misery.

So why do all the smart young people leave?

IK

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