DUP conduct is an obstacle to growth – Bradley

September 30, 2013

By Christine Keighery

Peter Robinson must face up to all the obstacles to economic growth including the conduct of his own party, according to SDLP Assembly Member for Newry and Armagh, Dominic Bradley MLA.

The Deputy Chair of Stormont’s Finance and Personnel Committee was responding to comments from the DUP leader in which he argued that the Republic of Ireland’s “bad bank” NAMA was inhibiting growth in Northern Ireland.

Nama controls around £1bn of property loans originally made by Dublin-based banks to Northern Ireland customers.

Mr Robinson admitted that, on occasions, NAMA had helped to protect jobs and investment but insisted that its policy of holding on to properties for the long term “does little to boost our economy right now”.

Mr Bradley argued,  “One of our single biggest economic and financial opportunities is the expansion of North-South opportunities and places such as Newry and Armagh know this more than most.

“The more health services are joined up on the island, the more all the island is marketed internationally, the more spatial planning adopts an all-Ireland approach, the more North-South across a range of areas, the greater the benefits in jobs, savings and protection of services.  This is to the advantage to people, North and South.

“Yet for nearly seven years, Peter Robinson and the DUP have slowed down and held up, the review of North South arrangements, agreed at St. Andrews, commenced in 2007 and which to date has produced not a word, not a proposal and not an opportunity.  With recession and budget squeezes, the last years have been one of the best times to accelerate all-Ireland opportunities.  These and time have been wasted.”

Mr Bradley added that even though the North South Ministerial Council  (NSMC) had agreed in July that progress would be made on the Review by the end of this year, there has been little outcome. He also called for the “actions and timelines to implement its conclusions”  to be agreed to avoid the DUP’s  “further unpicking of the ambition and potential of the Good Friday Agreement.”

He concluded, “Peter Robinson should face up to all the obstacles to growth including the conduct of his own party.  Disputes and issues around parades and protests, flags, North-South and more make business harder and growth tougher. “