Belfast Telegraph

Economy must be included in Haass discussions, says CBI leader

By Margaret Canning

A stronger economy must be secured for Northern Ireland if any consenus on political problems is to succeed, CBI chairman Ian Coulter said.

He told the CBI's annual lunch event that implementing any consensus reached through the present political talks involving American diplomat Richard Haass would be "much more difficult" without considering how to transform the economy.

"Implementation of any outcomes will be the real hard years and can only succeed with a stronger economy for all our communities, raising living standards and providing more job opportunities, particularly for our young," said Mr Coulter, who will step down as chairman in January.

He said a stronger private sector would reduce youth unemployment as well as softening the impact of welfare reform and cuts in public spending.

And he stressed that a cut in corporation tax must remain on the agenda after Westminster said any decision would not be taken until after next year's referendum on Scottish independence.

"The UK Government must deliver much more under the economic pact in the coming 12 months and yes, it must deliver devolution of corporation tax this time next year."

And he said the next 12 months had the potential "to steer Northern Ireland in a whole new direction, politically, socially and economically".

Mr Coulter urged politicians taking part in the Haass talks not to be dominated with the past, which along with parades and flags, form the three thorny issues to be tackled by Haass in the coming months.

Belfast Telegraph