Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has again called for an all-Ireland economic policy and issued a stinging attack on Westminster for ignoring Northern Ireland’s financial woes.
Mr McGuinness was speaking at the second of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce’s ‘5 Leaders 5 Days’ series at the New York Stock Exchange office in Belfast.
“We are a region particularly subject to economic instability because of two separate economies,” he said.
“Business does not like instability. Our needs don’t register with policies made in London. The economies on both sides of the border are interconnected and interdependent — this is not political, an all-Ireland economic policy is not a thread to anyone’s identity. This multiplicity means we are creating competition between ourselves.
“The best use of resources is to work together across our island.
“One executive from Chicago told us, ‘I look at a place which has 1.6m people and I am not excited. I look at a place with 6m people and I am excited’ — that says it all.
“The policy of the current Government is unacceptable and both Peter Robinson and I have registered complaints in Downing Street.
“Applying Tory policy of huge spending cuts will be devastating to the Northern Ireland economy.
“Peter Robinson and I have met the Prime Minister David
Cameron once and it is obvious that he does not want to meet with us because he knows we have a grievance.”
He also repeated calls for a harmonisation of corporation tax levels — bringing Northern Ireland’s rate of 28% in line with that across the border of 12.5% — credited with a huge increase in foreign direct investment.
Mr McGuinness added that a focus on the creative industries and the agri-food industries and boosting exports would also be factors in rebalancing the economy.
“There is no conflict, we need to encourage both local business and foreign direct investment.
“The next big battle is around the economy and Peter Robinson and I are on the same side, there is not a blade of grass between us.”