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The Republic isn't poaching 'our' investors - the money men simply go for the best deal

Arlene Foster, in her speech to the DUP conference, had this to say about the Irish government: "While they seek to take the views of people of Northern Ireland on the issue of Brexit at home, their representatives are sent out around the world to talk down our economy and to attempt to poach our investors." (News, October 29).

In relation to poaching "our" investors, they only become our investors when they sign on the dotted line. There is no entitlement in a competitive global market, and the Irish Development Agency (like most regional investment agencies across the rest of the UK) has always pressed its offer worldwide. Similarly, investors do not owe Northern Ireland any special favours, and they will simply go where the best deal is offered. Perhaps it's more a case of our own Invest NI trying harder and doing better.

To be fair, there is not much more that Invest NI can do, given that Northern Ireland has virtually no control of taxation beyond local rating and is reliant on a £10bn block grant to keep functioning.

The promise of corporation tax reduction in 2018 will not change this, because the Irish government has many more fiscal levers and incentives to offer investors, driving an effective rate of tax well below our much-vaunted rate of 12.5%.

Similarly, Brexit has brought talk of a UK corporation tax rate dropping as low as 10% - completely eroding the rate advantage in Northern Ireland should it happen.

Blaming others for our troubles is a sign of political desperation, rather than economic leadership. We deserve better from our First Minister.


By email

Ashers writer needs  to get facts straight

Shelley Leggett (Write Back, October 30) makes at least three wrong assumptions in her reply regarding Ashers Bakery.

1. Ashers did not turn away the client, as they had served him at various times before. And orientation did not come into the picture. They politely refused to fulfil an order with a political slogan that went against their conscience.

That is where free speech and conscience come in, and the State has no right to legislate what people believe if it does not lead to violence. The State has overreached itself here, and when rights are pushed, there will inevitably be times when they clash. That is why common sense should still be used in law, as it used to be.

2. There is no such thing as "equal marriage". Marriage can only between a man and a woman, as only in that way is the complementarity of the two sexes truly fulfilled, as intended. To change the meaning to include anyone else means it is no longer marriage. And, of course, as we are already seeing elsewhere, once a change is made, it renders it open to anything else a pressure group, or even the state, decides.

May I remind Ms Leggett that when civil partnerships were introduced, we were assured by Tony Blair and others that nothing else would be introduced. So much for assurances.

3. The claim that Jesus Christ said nothing about homosexuality has been refuted by others, but let me just say that (a) as a devout Jew, Jesus would have believed homosexuality to be totally outwith God's plan as His laws stated and (b) what He did do was emphasise that marriage from the beginning was between a man and a woman and anything else was sinful.

As for "hurt feelings", the McArthurs acted politely, as they have done all through this case, but feelings are being emphasised far too much these days in the search for grievances.


Tandragee, Co Armagh

Europe trade deal is nothing to celebrate

Sunday, October 30 will go down as a dark day for what remains of democracy in Europe. It was when CETA (the Canada/EU so-called trade deal) was signed.

The media said that it has been seven years in the making - and yet they only bothered to report on it when Belgium tried to block it at the last moment.

The reason why the region of Walloon, and millions of others across Europe, opposes CETA is because it threatens our working conditions, food standards, environmental protections and public services, and allows foreign corporations to sue our Government.

In short, corporations (or those who own them) will have almost total control over our lives. In light of these very serious concerns, you need to ask yourselves why the public were not informed about this by the Government and our media.


By email

God brought animals to the Ark, not Noah

In my letter (Write Back, October 26), I commended Believer in Science for the accuracy of most of his quotations from the Bible.

But Honest Man (Write Back, October 28) belies his chosen pen-name and builds his argument on two errors.

Firstly, he misquotes my reference to 16,000 animals and translates that into 16,000 pairs of animals.

But secondly - and much more significantly - he ignores the fact that the Bible says that God brought all the animals to Noah.

So his wonderfully reasoned argument about the problems there would have been to get the animals to the Ark falls flat. It is he who has gone to great lengths "to fabricate and concoct evidence" to suit his own argument - not me.


Bangor, Co Down

Revel in awe-inspiring beauty of our autumn

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, close bosom-friend of the maturing sun."

Isn't this time of the year so charming? Tree leaves bedecked in a glorious golden hue. Air crisp and fresh. A walking wonderland of enchantment. The wood so quiet, as she prepares for her long winter sojourn.

Squirrels busy stashing away nuts for retrieval. Some of our little friends already hibernating in anticipation of spring. Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.

When the first frost arrives the wood will be covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon. Crunchy leaves under foot.

The leaves are all falling and they're falling like they're falling in love with the ground. Autumn, you are so beautiful.


By email

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