Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland businesses hit out at failure to reach deal

By John Mulgrew

Businesses have described the collapse of talks to restore a working Executive as "disappointing" and said measures must now be taken to secure a budget.

Yesterday afternoon DUP leader Arlene Foster effectively said negotiations had collapsed between her party and Sinn Fein after they tried to reach an agreement to restore the Assembly.

Dr Patrice Cairns, Northern Ireland policy manager with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said: "It is disappointing that the talks have reached a conclusion without a deal.

"As we have said on a number of occasions, there are important decisions that need to be taken around things like investing in our infrastructure, and these decisions are not being taken in the absence of an Executive.

"We firmly believe that devolution is best for Northern Ireland, and we would encourage all of those involved to continue to work to reach agreement.

"However, the Secretary of State will have to look at measures in the interim to ensure that budgetary issues are dealt with and important decisions can be taken."

An accountancy group said Northern Ireland is facing several economic challenges and a united leadership is needed to tackle businesses' concerns.

Gareth Latimer, chairman of the ACCA Ulster Members Network, was speaking following a report into the province's economic outlook. "Northern Ireland's economic challenges are accentuated by its dependence on a future Brexit deal that protects north-south and east-west trading arrangements," he said.

"The uncertainty factor this process is causing is being compounded by the absence of a functioning Assembly."

Mr Latimer said an operational Assembly "would bring an urgency to important projects that would support the local economy, stimulate industry expansion and create employment".

He added: "Brexit is the most pressing economic challenge in 10 years."

Belfast Telegraph

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