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Trade groups urge political leaders here to 'redouble' talks efforts

NI Chamber boss: Ann McGregor
NI Chamber boss: Ann McGregor

By John Mulgrew

Almost two-dozen Northern Ireland business groups say they have deep concerns over the lack of political representation here and are calling for a "redoubling" of efforts to restore the Assembly.

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A statement, signed by 21 business organisations and trade bodies, says that "two-and-a-half years on from the collapse of the Executive, and now approaching the likely conclusion of the Brexit process, the Northern Ireland business community is deeply concerned at the continued absence of a functioning administration and is calling on political representatives to redouble their efforts to reach agreement to get the Assembly and Executive working again".

The statement adds: "There has seldom been a time when strong and effective leadership has been more necessary, both to deliver on the domestic agenda and also to speak up for Northern Ireland in the Brexit process.

"We need a fully functioning administration to agree and deliver a Programme for Government that will build infrastructure, reform our health service and education system, ensure we have a strong economy, and create opportunities for our young people."

The bodies also called for "effective representation" for businesses in the Brexit discussions, "even at this late stage in the process, to ensure that the economy is protected through whatever changes arise and that all necessary mitigations are sought and secured". The bodies which have signed the statement include the NI Chamber, the Federation of Small Businesses NI, CBI NI, the Institute of Directors (IoD) NI and the NI Food and Drink Association.

The statement concludes: "The business community will give encouragement and support to those politicians who stretch themselves to reach a compromise. Without such a commitment and associated action from our elected representatives, we risk irreparable damage to our economy and our society for which future generations will judge us harshly."

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