19/09/2005

Violence threatens NI's economic potential

Scenes of violence and destruction in and around Belfast are viewed as a major setback the bid to achieve the full economic potential for Northern Ireland.

That was the message from the Economic Development Forum, which met recently to discuss progress on meeting the major challenges facing the economy.

Speaking after the meeting, which was attended by representatives of the main political parties, Chair of the Forum, Enterprise Minister Angela Smith said: “The Forum heard of significant progress being made by representatives of the private, voluntary, academic and public sectors working closely together to understand the economic challenges facing Northern Ireland and how to meet them.

“But Northern Ireland faces a significant additional burden if its international image is one of violence and destruction on the streets.”

The Forum heard from each of the four groups established earlier this year to identify key issues and to track progress on the four productivity drivers for the delivery of the Economic Vision - Innovation, Enterprise, Skills and Infrastructure. During the next three months Forum members will continue to develop and refine this work, which will be used to advise on and shape economic development policy in areas related to the Vision where Forum members can add value by drawing on their experience and expertise.

The Enterprise Mister welcomed the reports on each area, Angela Smith said: “The key to successful implementation of the Economic Vision is all sectors working in partnership to make it a reality for Northern Ireland. The work of EDF’s Sub-groups through the summer shows clearly how the social partners on the Forum have risen to the challenge. I am impressed at the progress made by the Forum to date and I look forward to working with its members and also representatives of the main political parties, in the implementation of the Vision. Progress has certainly been made in the economy but significant challenges remain ahead in the areas of productivity and economic inactivity.”

(SP)

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