Thursday 14 December 2017

Parties argue over benefits of all-Ireland economy

All-Ireland economic harmonisation will cut waste, the Northern Ireland Assembly heard today.

Northern Ireland on its own always was a basket case after years of direct rule from London and administrations north and south need to reduce duplication and unnecessary spending on replica bodies, Gerry Adams (Sinn Fein, West Belfast) added.

He addressed a debate on the all-island economy at Stormont this afternoon. Unionists accused him of "fantasy economics" and said most of Northern Ireland's trade was with Great Britain.

The Sinn Fein leader said: "The economy here never worked, it was always a basket case. We are not arguing here for a united Ireland...what we are arguing here is for harmonisation, is common sense relationships.

"What we are talking about is trying to stitch together things which are of benefit to ordinary citizens.

"We should have more control, more sets of levers, local businesses should have available to them the same assistance as is given to foreign investors."

He said there should be a single corporation tax, barriers to workers' mobility throughout Ireland should be removed and there must not be competing development agencies north and south.

Gregory Campbell (DUP, East Londonderry) said Sinn Fein were being political and trying to advance their Irish unity agenda. He pointed to the trouble the Irish economy has been experiencing.

And Lord Wallace Browne (DUP, East Belfast) said Sinn Fein were engaging in fantasy economics.

"If the Irish government were to embark on the kind of all-island economic recovery and development plan proposed in the motion, which would inevitably involve substantial increases in public spending, they would risk expulsion from the eurozone," he said.

"The whole premise of Sinn Fein's proposal is a complete fantasy. The best way to boost Northern Ireland's economy is to institute policies that will make Northern Ireland more attractive to investors than the Republic and not to simply tie Northern Ireland's prospects to those of the Republic.

"Once again Sinn Fein's economic policy has exposed itself as nothing more than fairytale economics and republican wish thinking."

Alban Maginness (SDLP, North Belfast) said there was an urgent need to depoliticise the debate.

"The world regards this island as an economic unit and it is just too small to have competing economies when collaboration can achieve so much more. Pooled investment could bring greater returns for everyone," he said.

The motion was defeated.

Press Association

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