Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland economy 'suffering from impasse at Stormont and Brexit uncertainty'

By Margaret Canning

The private sector in Northern Ireland is "rigid with uncertainty" over Brexit as political statemate continues, trade unions have said.

And they called for "compromise" to bring about the revival of power-sharing institutions under the Good Friday Agreement, as they marked its 20th anniversary at an event in Stormont yesterday.

Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) assistant general secretary Owen Reidy (right) said the economy was suffering as a result of the absence of an Executive over the last year.

"We believe that locally accountable politicians can develop and implement policies on health, education and the economy better than any part-time Tory minister, no matter how well-intentioned," he said.

"The economy is suffering from this stalemate. The private sector is becoming rigid with the uncertainty over Brexit, and cannot properly invest in people or research or innovation or exports."

Mr Reidy added: "One of the messages we will be delivering to our political class comes from our experience as negotiators. No matter how painful, it is not a bad thing to compromise sometimes, and to earn the trust of your adversaries, for the long-term betterment of everybody concerned."

And he continued, saying preserving peace was "everyone's responsibility".

"Its benefits ought to be the common property of all of the people of Northern Ireland.

"The trade union movement played its part in peace building and the implementation of its features.

"We will continue to play a positive role and build a peaceful, just and prosperous home for every person in NI."

Economists have this week been debating the impact of the Good Friday Agreement on the economy.

John Simpson said the economic potential of the Agreement had not been fully realised.

He added that while there had been some improvements, the economy was not performing as well as it could.

And he said that job creation over the last 20 years had been focused on lower-paid positions.

"The most successful feature of the economy since 1998 has been the increase in the number of people in jobs.

"Many of the new jobs have emerged in low value added occupations.

"Ideally, the search should be for jobs with higher value added and generating higher personal incomes."

Belfast Telegraph

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