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Cut in corporation tax 'could kick-start Northern Ireland economy'

Reducing Northern Ireland’s corporation tax to 12.5% could be the key to success for the struggling local economy, according to one of Ireland’s top businessmen.

The move, which would bring Northern Ireland into line with the Republic, would attract inward foreign investment, upskilling and job creation, said Gavin O’Reilly, chief executive of Independent News & Media last night.

Dublin-based Mr O’Reilly stated: “Don’t be fooled by anyone who tells you that the 12.5% rate was not really all that important for the Republic’s success.

“It was the indispensable ace in the pack.

“While the Celtic Tiger may have more than a bout of indigestion, all I can say is that the only thing preventing the Republic from slipping into the abyss is our 12.5% corporation tax.”

Referring to the impending public sector cuts and Northern Ireland’s overdependence on the Government, the CEO said: “The real challenge for Northern Ireland is how it can practically rebalance its economy and grow the private sector.

“As many of you may know, we at the Belfast Telegraph have been supporting the very simple strategy to re-caste the corporate tax rate here down to 12.5% and harmonise it with that which is |enjoyed in the Republic and frankly, it is a plan whose time has come.”

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The 12.5% tax proposal has already won the backing of many business leaders and groups, including Sir George Quigley, who believes that if implemented it would double the rate of growth, close the wealth gap with the rest of the UK and create 180,000 additional jobs by 2030.

The Economic Research Group also produced a comprehensive report which confirmed the validity and efficacy of a lower tax regime.

Mr O’Reilly, addressing the opening night of INM Group Annual Conference at Belfast Harbour Commissioners, said: “So, a lower tax rate is in our collective grasp, if politicians and the business leaders close ranks and make it your own.

“For our part at Independent, you can be certain that we’ll be supporting this vigorously.”

He added: “The first step is for Westminster to devolve power to the Northern Ireland Executive to set its own rate of corporation tax.

“Sure there will be quibbles

about the precedent on Scotland and Wales — but I certainly think we can all agree that there is a historical imperative here, that necessarily relegates the other parts of the UK.

“We need to push our politicians so that we can create a tax environment in Northern Ireland that mimics what we have in the South and ensures that both parts of this island are able to enjoy an equally vibrant 21st century — that means both of them are outward focused and both of them ever more deeply integrated into the global economy.”