Businesses in the province are concerned about the future of a post-Brexit Northrn Ireland, worried about a no deal scenario and uncertain about employment under new rules on migration.
That was the message from CBI president John Allan, addressing the organisation’s annual lunch in Belfast on Thursday.
Referring to recent polling from the UK employers’ group, he said more than 80% of Northern Ireland members are ‘very concerned’ about the impact of ‘no deal’ on the region’s economy.
Speaking at the Titanic Belfast before an invited audience of business leaders, he said stressed the importance of a post-Brexit immigration system that worked for all parts of the UK and warned that the local economy faced damage if businesses aee unable to get the people they need to succeed.
Urging policitians to play their part in the process he called on them to look back to the Belfast Agreement and return to local decision-making on critical infrastructure projects such as the North/South Interconnector, A5 upgrade, Belfast Transport Hub and Belfast Power Station for the good of all the people.
“Let me deliver a message from our members to politicians here.
“It is time to do what you were elected to do - govern.
“It’s not just Brexit. It’s about a billion pounds worth of Northern Irish infrastructure projects awaiting a decision.
“It’s failure to reform the health system, failure to deliver a regional Industrial Strategy,
“Northern Ireland deserves better.”
Twenty years on from the Good Friday Agreement that put people, peace and prosperity first, he said the same spirit was needed right now.
“Specifically, over 90% of CBI Northern Ireland members believe the proposed backstop is a better outcome for the Northern Irish economy than ‘no deal’.
“Does anyone want history to say a reasonable exit from the EU was thwarted by a generation of politicians who would not compromise?”