Belfast Telegraph

Stormont crisis costing jobs and investment, say business chiefs

By John Mulgrew

Jobs are being lost and overseas investment halted amid "uncertainty" at Stormont, it has been claimed.

Lobby groups, companies, the banking industry and economists have spoken out over the "uncertainty," which they say is harming Northern Ireland's overall business community.

After the Ulster Unionists walked away from the Executive table, First Minister Peter Robinson has met Prime Minister David Cameron to urge him to suspend the Assembly to deal with the latest crisis.

That impasse has been slammed by business representatives, who have said the unpredictability is pushing out investment from abroad, hitting job creation and causing firms here to be cautious about investment. Wilfred Mitchell, policy chair at the Federation of Small Businesses in Northern Ireland, said: "The unpredictability of the political situation over recent months causes businesses to be cautious and reluctant to invest, which has an immediate and negative impact on job creation.

"None of us underestimate the difficulties with which our politicians are grappling but if we are to create jobs and prosperity for everyone, a resolution must quickly be found which will put in place policies such as lower corporation tax that will invigorate the entire economy."

But while Stormont continues to flounder and "confidence is running and frustration is increasing", Northern Ireland's business community "will not go bust", according to Stephen McCully, president of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"Northern Ireland's politicians need to bring stability to Stormont and give local businesses an opportunity to build a recovery.

"Things are going to fester and it is going to harm the confidence and ambitions of both local companies and potential investors."

And Danske Bank chief executive Gerry Mallon said Northern Ireland's politicians "haven't succeeded" to date in providing a strong environment for businesses to flourish.

"I don't believe that the current uncertainty is conducive to seeing that growth in the private sector.

"We need stability, and stability with progressive government which in engaging with putting policies in place."

PwC's chief economist Dr Esmond Birnie said there would be cases where crucial inward investment had been postponed or rejected, amid the uncertainty over the future of Northern Ireland's devolved institutions.

"The first thing is uncertainty over any sort of investment. That's generally well established across the world," he said.

"There is also quite a lot of evidence that Northern Ireland's economy has been slowing down...that is happening independent of politics."

Mark Spence of family-run engineering firm MFS - which has cut dozens of jobs - said there remained uncertainty in his industry. And the negative headlines across the globe "will damage our reputation as a location for foreign direct investment", according to Glyn Roberts of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association.

4 days:

The time until the Executive meets after a nine-week break

Belfast Telegraph

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