Northern Ireland has never been more in need of a functiong Executive as it struggles to to improve living and working standards for all its people, grow the economy and meet the challenges of Brexit a leading business organisation has claimed.
As the talks deadline passed without agreement, the CBI and many other embusiness groups urged the parties to find a way to get back into government at a critical juncture for the province.
“Against the backdrop of Article 50 being triggered, there has seldom been a more important time to have a strong well-functioning Executive to represent the people of Northern Ireland and our economy,” said CBI NI regional director Angela McGowan.
“Northern Ireland urgently requires strong leadership and representation. The business community urges our politicians to continue to negotiate and find a solution in a reasonable timeframe.”
Political stability and economic prosperity, she said, went hand in hand and issues such as foreign direct investment and corporation tax would be heavily influenced by a devolved government.
“Furthermore, we desperately need local political representatives to speak on our behalf if we are to ensure that UK and EU negotiators have a proper understanding of Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances around energy markets, supply chains, tourism and the border.”
Nick Coburn, president of the NI Chamber of Commerce and Indsutry said the province was once again in a political stalemate.
“The business community has made its views very clear and we reiterate again, devolved Government with local, accessible and responsive Ministers is the preferred option, by far.”
At the same time, he said the formal triggering of Article 50 by Prime Minister May meant the start of the UK’s two year exit process from the EU.
“The implications for the UK as a whole are very clear and the knock on implications for us here in Northern Ireland in terms of skills and trade are concerning.
“The administrations in Wales and Scotland are making their views known and they are having an input into the UK wide discussions and negotiations.
“This is not a time for Northern Ireland to be unrepresented at the Brexit table,” he said.
Responding to the talks breakdown, Roger Pollen, FSB Northern Ireland’s head of external affairs said it was “deeply disappointed” agreement had not been reached.
“The political parties need to redouble their efforts to bring about a solution, as Northern Ireland’s businesses cannot afford weeks and months clouded by uncertainty.”
For the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) , policy manager in Northern Ireland, Dr Patrice Cairns, underlined it belief that devolution remained the best way forward.
“We urge the politicians to work to ensure that a devolved administration can be established as soon as possible to deal with key issues for Northern Ireland.
“Of crucial importance is working to secure Northern Ireland’s best interests in relation to Brexit.
“A Northern Ireland-specific case in relation to the UK’s exit from the EU is needed, in order to highlight the unique circumstances we face here, namely the border with the Republic of Ireland, the potential impact on our ability to attract inward investment, and the crucial nature of access to the single market.
And the UK government needs to ensure that the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland are recognised in order to give clarity and certainty for the future.”