Foster pledges to accentuate the positive on US trip

Mrs Foster is experienced and skilled  at selling Northern Ireland abroad
Mrs Foster is experienced and skilled at selling Northern Ireland abroad

First Minister Arlene Foster has pledged to highlight the positive aspects of life and work in the province on her first visit to the USA as head of the Executive.

As she prepares for what has become a traditional St Patrick’s Day trip with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, she said there was a lot of good news to tell over the course of the four day visit.

“There is a well-worn phrase that bad news makes a good headline, but that is a mind-set I would like to change,” she said during an address at the Lisburn and Castlereagh Business Awards.

“The business community is generating a lot of good news and I believe that makes a great story for Northern Ireland.

“It’s one we should be shouting from the rooftops. We should be articulating this upbeat message at every possible opportunity.

“That’s what I will be doing when I go to America next week. I will tell President Obama – and in fact anyone who will listen – the positive news that ‘our wee country’ is one they should put at the top of their list to visit and invest in.”

With more than 80 cruise ships visiting Belfast this year and complaints of too many tourists at the Dark Hedges, she said growth witnessed in tourism was “unimaginable when I was growing up”.

“People steered clear of here rather than visit. We’re going in the right direction. We’ve first class visitor attractions in every county and I want to play my part in bringing people from all over the world to see them.

Her top priority, she said, was to bring more and better jobs to the province.

“That’s why when others had thrown in the towel on corporation tax we didn’t. The DUP stood alone but we delivered. This will revolutionise doing business in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is second only to London at attracting investment into the United Kingdom and that was during a downturn.

Next week I will visit companies in New York, Washington DC and San Francisco. I will be selling all the advantages of doing business in Northern Ireland. Having the lowest rate of corporate tax in Western Europe gives us an incredible advantage.”