A range of business leaders have welcomed the Conservative-DUP deal as beneficial for the Northern Ireland - but are now calling for the restoration of Stormont.
Construction Employers Federation Managing Director John Armstrong said £400m of infrastructure spending would have many indirect positives for the economy - but that it was critical to get Stormont restored for it to be spent.
“The announcement today of an extra £400m of infrastructure expenditure over the course of the next two years is to be strongly welcomed,” he said.
“Infrastructure spending has significant direct and in-direct economic benefits and, as industry has long said, it is critical that it is directed towards projects which have the highest economic yield.
“The focus therefore on the York Street Interchange Project, as well as other major schemes, is one we welcome and it is crucial we now navigate the remaining hurdles on the project speedily so that the financing announced today can be used to its fullest effect on the up to £165m scheme.”
He added that it is now “absolutely critical” that a Northern Ireland Executive is formed by Thursday’s deadline.
Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of NI Chamber, said it had stressed the importance of a deal that would benefit everyone in Northern Ireland.
“Therefore we welcome the elements to the deal that cover key areas including the economy, infrastructure, health and education,” she said.
Road schemes such as the York Street Interchange will do much to ease congestion on heavily trafficked roads in the region, helping businesses to move products and goods more efficiently and in the process reduce costs, she said.
Also the devolution of Corporation Tax is now going to move ahead with a revised timetable for its introduction, which will prove attractive to investors.
“However one of the biggest issues consistently facing our members is the shortage of skilled workers and although this isn’t referenced directly in the document, it is important that we see dialogues by government on this issue in the near future.”
She stressed how Northern Ireland’s political parties must come to an agreement that will allow our own government to start again.
The Federation for Small Businesses Northern Ireland’s Head of External Affairs, Roger Pollen, said his members in Northern Ireland tell him that political and economic instability are the major obstacles to business success and growth. “This deal is a welcome starting point for greater clarity and progress in the ongoing talks to restore the Northern Ireland Executive,” he said.
“FSB welcomes the positive implications of the deal for infrastructure and jobs, but will now be calling on the local parties to engage to restore the institutions that will let Northern Ireland capitalise on this new-found investment.”
Action Mental Health, Northern Ireland’s largest mental health charity, warmly welcomed the deal.
David Babington, chief executive of Action Mental Health said £10m a year for five years will be made available specifically for mental health services.
“Action Mental Health would like to warmly welcome this announcement of significant extra funding for mental health services in Northern Ireland,” he said. “For some time, we have worked closely with all of the political parties in Northern Ireland to lobby for improvements in mental health service provision to recognise long term under investment, and the specific historical issues which exist here.”
However Alex Wild, Research Director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said the deal will give taxpayers little confidence that their money is being well spent.
“Taxpayers resent politicians cooking up deals behind closed doors that invariably end with their cash being thrown wherever is politically advantageous rather than where it could be best spent,” they said.