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Northern Ireland is ‘open for business,’ Westminster event hears

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Sir Keir Starmer MP joins Colin Neill (Hospitality Ulster), Stephen Kelly (Manufacturing NI) and Glyn Roberts (Retail NI) of Trade NI at the business alliance’s Northern Ireland reception on the House of Commons Terrace

Sir Keir Starmer MP joins Colin Neill (Hospitality Ulster), Stephen Kelly (Manufacturing NI) and Glyn Roberts (Retail NI) of Trade NI at the business alliance’s Northern Ireland reception on the House of Commons Terrace

Sir Keir Starmer MP joins Colin Neill (Hospitality Ulster), Stephen Kelly (Manufacturing NI) and Glyn Roberts (Retail NI) of Trade NI at the business alliance’s Northern Ireland reception on the House of Commons Terrace

Sir Keir Starmer has addressed a House of Commons event showcasing business opportunities in Northern Ireland.

Trade NI said they wanted its reception on the Commons terrace, which was hosted NI Minister for State Conor Burns MP, to be a “wake-up call” to the UK about the potential of NI.

But the Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir said businesses in Northern Ireland needed “clarity and certainty” and a “pragmatic solution” to move beyond difficulties over the NI Protocol.  

The DUP has said it will not enter power sharing until difficulties with the trading arrangement are resolved.

Trade NI, made up of the leaders of Manufacturing NI, Hospitality Ulster and Retail NI, said the reception demonstrated the “host of economic and investment opportunities” available in NI.

And they called on a future Executive to deliver a clear economic strategy for NI and take business-friendly measures to increase productivity, reduce the regulatory burden on businesses and increase the skills base.

In a joint statement, Colin Neill of Hospitality Ulster, Glyn Roberts of Retail NI and Stephen Kelly of Manufacturing NI, said: “The past two years have been monumental for the business community as we have battled the pandemic, changes due to the protocol and the collapse of the Executive once again...

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“The reception is a showcase on why this region is primed for new opportunities to grow and prosper.

"We have some of the best talent, best environment and best products available on the global stage, and now is the time for this to be recognised and properly activated on an international scale.”

They said they wanted to remind politicians and the wider UK business community that NI is “a central cog in the wider economic output of the UK”. 

Mr Burns MP said: “I’m delighted to sponsor this event in the Houses of Parliament, bringing together businesses, councils and key sectors from across Northern Ireland.

“Northern Ireland has so much to offer to the rest of the world, and the UK Government is committed to supporting this economic development and shining a light on its potential as a fantastic place to live, work and do business.”

The event on Wednesday, which drew around 200 guests, was sponsored by Heathrow Airport, DWF Law and Queen’s University Belfast.


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