Business continues to plot course for success while politics founders

Tourism remains one of our strongest sectors but the others need support and soon
Tourism remains one of our strongest sectors but the others need support and soon

After the week of the big chill, that added new meteorological paralysis to the more familiar political variety, I presume it’s safe to assume that the merely averagely awful weather will have returned by the time the first ship of the 2018 cruise liner armada docks in Belfast.

They’ll be tying up in a harbour that reported a record year for business in 2017 and, hopefully, the very welcome invasion of 200,000 tourists will help the harbour on its way to a record 2018 too.

There’s little doubt that we could use some good news this week after the grim news on the retail front that threatens jobs of both Toys R Us and Maplin coming on the back of and last week’s shock announcement of 125 manufacturing jobs at the Carrickfergus site of Sensata, formerly Schrader Technologies.

That follows similar job loss announcements in the last couple of months from Schlumberger, Williams Industrial Services, Kilroot Power Station and Wrightbus.

Each of these losses is, of course, a bitter blow for the people who will find themselves looking for new jobs in a difficult market, but it is uncertain whether the existence of a functioning Assembly and Executive could or would have made any difference to the outcomes.

On the other hand, the ability to attract new overseas investment can definitely be nudged in the right direction by positive input from Ministers.

As Manufacturing Northen Ireland chief executive Stephen Kelly said recently: “Political stability is the number one factor giving confidence to foreign direct investment investors and there have been examples in the past where a call or visit from the First or Deputy First Minister has secured or sustained jobs that could have been lost.

“What we have right now is no good for business.”

As the Brexit debate threatens to become ever more divisive let us prey for the same common sense and quick thinking from firms such as home grown pharmaceutical giant Almac which is to create 100 jobs in Craigavon and Ammeon, a Dublin based IT business looking to expand and seeing opportunity here which will bring a further 60 jobs to Belfast.