NI economy to ‘lose £1bn’ without Executive warns CBI

The total cost to Northern Ireland’s economic output could be as high as £1 billion without the restoration of the Executive by the end of the year, business group the CBI has claimed.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 23rd May 2019, 9:54 pm
CBI Northern Ireland chair 
Trevor Lockhart pictured, left, with CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn, Adrian Doran,CBI NI vice-chair, and NI director Angela McGowan at the organisation's annual dinner in Belfast
CBI Northern Ireland chair Trevor Lockhart pictured, left, with CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn, Adrian Doran,CBI NI vice-chair, and NI director Angela McGowan at the organisation's annual dinner in Belfast

New analysis reveals that without renewed political leadership in place by the end of 2019, the total loss to NI economic output could be £940 million, in addition to the continuing Brexit threat.

Speaking at the CBI NI annual dinner in Belfast on Thursday night, CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn said the Northern Ireland of today stood as a testament to those who negotiated the Good Friday Agreement.

But warning against the threat to that legacy, she said business was “crying out” for movement and called on politicians to ensure power-sharing talks do not break down into further stalemate and deadlock.

“The political impasse has left Northern Ireland without a functioning government for more than 860 days - the longest ever peacetime government deadlock,” she said.

“In boardrooms across the country, business leaders know all about differences of opinion and robust debate.

“Over questions about where to invest, who to hire and how to run a company. But for the most successful among them, stalemate simply is not an option. They have no choice but to reach consensus.

“I have just one message to those involved in power-sharing talks here in Belfast: Why not adopt the business approach? You bear a historic responsibility.

“Business is crying out for compromise because the cost of failure now would be so great. This money could help fix roads, eradicate waiting lists in Northern Irish hospitals or transform education in primary and secondary schools.”

Restoring power to Stormont was the only way forward she said adding that what was once pressing was now “desperately urgent”.

That urgency was only heightened by the challenges presenting the province in relation to Brexit.

“With thousands of goods vehicles and people crossing the border each day, business has been clear. A hard border would be an economic wrecking ball for Northern Ireland.

“Facts must be at the heart of this debate,” she said.

“The CBI and many businesses in this room have given politicians the economic evidence they need. Like the fact that – by 2034 – the cost of a no-deal Brexit could be equivalent to over 10% of Northern Ireland’s economy.

“Then there is the cost of potential tariffs and the damage of no-deal Brexit for Northern Ireland’s many current strengths as a place to invest.

“In the 21 years since the Good Friday Agreement and the border barriers were removed, Northern Irish businesses have created thousands of extra jobs.

“Unemployment is at its lowest rate on record and Northern Irish goods exports have risen at an average of nearly 7% a year, year-on-year for two decades.

“Together businesses are this nation’s greatest source of jobs, prosperity and collaboration.

“It must be the business voice that shapes the policies that work for Northern Ireland’s people and its future prosperity.”