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Arlene Foster: Referendum brought challenges and opportunities for Northern Ireland

By Rachel Martin

The First Minister has said she is sometimes frustrated by a "lack of ambition" for Northern Ireland and reiterated that she has no regrets over Brexit.

Arlene Foster said: "People should not talk this region down but instead should talk it up. I sometimes get frustrated by the lack of ambition for this place and I know when I speak to young people they have lots of ambition and creativity and I want to harness that and motivate them to stay in Northern Ireland and see their future here.

"I think there's been a lot of talk about the consequences of Brexit but reality the reality is slightly different - there are challenges - I'm not saying there aren't, but there are a lot of opportunities as well. I think what we need to do is be talking up Northern Ireland."

Despite the UK's economic instability, the First Minister said she had no regrets about the supporting Brexit.

"It was my seven and a half years as Economy Minister which convinced me that leaving was the right way to go," she said. "I saw the over regulation and I saw the way Europe dealt with the regions - it was inflexible. It wasn't creative. It wasn't innovative. And I think that this is a moment in time when we can grasp all that and do things differently."

Arlene Foster was speaking to Belfast Telegraph at a press conference announcing the creation of 300 jobs for the city by London firm Tullett Prebon.

Mrs Foster's DUP colleague, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton, will have the job of selling Northern Ireland to investors abroad. However, he said the referendum outcome did not make this any harder.

"None of the advantages which brought this investment here would be affected by Brexit and that will remain the case. Clearly by bringing corporation tax into the picture - the lower rate as well - we will have advantages on top of those that we already have around skills and our infrastructure," he said.

"I believe Northern Ireland is really well positioned and things have been starting to move and have been moving in the right direction for some time."

Belfast Telegraph