Let’s pay them to stay away shall we? Things are looking up without them

Allstate's new HQ is a mark of its long-standing commitment to the province and its skills, from left; SoS Karen Bradley, John Healy and Suren Gupta, Allstate and Invest CEO Alastair Hamilton
Allstate's new HQ is a mark of its long-standing commitment to the province and its skills, from left; SoS Karen Bradley, John Healy and Suren Gupta, Allstate and Invest CEO Alastair Hamilton

Call it gardening leave, call it a ‘sabbatical’ call it whatever you like; paying our MLAs wages to do whatever they want except ‘rule’ Northern Ireland could be the best economic policy yet devised.

To be fair it’s taken over a year to come to fruition - and there have been several other possibly more influential factors - but despite all the bleating about infrastucture and the lack of an Executive, the business communtiy appears to be (say it softly) ‘doing okay’.

On Tuesday, the business advisors formerly known as Ernst and Young, but now simply as EY, forecast that NI is set to create close to 10,000 jobs between now and 2022.

Just to underline the point financial services firm Fin TrU announced it is to create 605 jobs the very same day.

And for a change, and silencing the ‘Belfast gets everything brigade’ the firm announced that 305 of the posts will be based at a new operations in the Derry/Londonderry.

Then, just to top that, Asda’s respected Income Tracker revealed that Northern Ireland has the fastest growing disposable income in the UK.

It is only fair to point out that disposable income in Northern has been stuck in the dark ages for years, running at about half the rate of other UK regions, but no matter, we’re on a roll.

On Wednesday insurer Axa announced another 60 jobs for Londonderry, while in Belfast 10 posts were confirmed for Instil Software.

On Thursday it was time for one of Belfast’s IT veterans to make some noise as Allstate opened its new HQ in the presence of SoS Karen Bradley and Invest CEO Alastair Hamilton.

Allstate had small beginnings in the city way back in 1999 with around 200 people. Almost 20 years later, it has offices in Belfast, Londonderry and Strabane, and employs around 2,000.

But it’s not just software and sevices where we continue to excel as 17 firms involved in materials handling attended Hillhead 2018, the leading exhibition for the quarrying, construction and recycling industries.

Now employing over 6,000 people, the industry manufactures more than 40% of the worlds mobile crushing and screening equipment.