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Eddie Irvine tells Northern Ireland to stop relying on handouts


Eddie Irvine with friend Rachel Hunter

Eddie Irvine with friend Rachel Hunter

The Queen

The Queen


Eddie Irvine with friend Rachel Hunter

Former Formula One star Eddie Irvine says it is time for Northern Ireland to stop relying on The Queen's generosity.

The Newtownards-born racer believes we need to become a place for international business.

He said Northern Ireland is in dire need of a "shake up" and has to walk away from government hand-outs to develop economically.

The retired driver, who raced for Jordan, Ferrari and Jaguar, said spending his time travelling between London, Dublin, the US and the Bahamas had taught him a lot about international business.

Despite living abroad, Irvine (50) said he still tried to follow local politics and had been disappointed by what was happening in Northern Ireland.

He said: "We've just been bouncing along the bottom for so long now. If you've two shops right beside each other offering the same milk and one's 10 cents and the other's 20 cents, you know which one's going to be busy.

"Giving people handouts to come here just doesn't work; you get the wrong companies."

He continued: "When you travel a lot, as I do, it gives you a very good education on certain things.

"Politicians have it hard because they have to get into power to be of any use so they have to promise more than they would like to promise to get into power and then they have to deliver on those promises.

"Some of the stuff they can bring back and get at it and other stuff they can't. People don't always want what's best for them, they want what they think is best for them.

"America is very 'good luck and get on with it' and you see the results of that, in that it is by far the best place to invest and money is piling into it - it's incredible.

"We've been [relying] on her Majesty now for a long time.

"Handout is the worst thing you can do for anything; even a child. I think Obama said 'a hand up not a handout.' And it's so true. If you give someone something they don't value it. You've got to make them work for it."

He said his daughter Zoe was never given pocket money.

"She had to go and clean her mum's car or clean windows and then she got some money," he added.

"It sounds cruel, but you need to be cruel to be kind. In Northern Ireland especially, I think we've had too many handouts from the UK.

"I think we will probably be suffering for a time, while we get off it, but we are determined and we do get stuff done.

"We just need to look at our sports people, from our golfers to our motorcycle riders, we outperform considering the size of the population here - we do have a good genetic pool."

He said his Northern Ireland investment, the Eddie Irvine Centre, hadn't made money in years.

"I may as well sponsor it," he added. "I have a lot of investments now and 95% I invest in America now because I get much better returns on my money.

"It's sad to say, but it's just a fact but money can move and we need to offer a better package [here].

"I think we're going in the right direction. I just wish it would go faster. This country is only 1.7m [people]; it could turn around on a sixpence - it really could."

Belfast Telegraph