Business Groups Welcome New Talks To Restore Institutions

Business groups in Northern Ireland have welcomed the new political talks process due to begin next week to restore the Assembly and government institutions.

Retail NI, Hospitality Ulster and Manufacturing NI released a statement following the announcement last week that fresh negotiations will begin following the local elections this Thursday, 02 May.

It comes after over two years without a fully functioning executive, with the main parties- the DUP and Sinn Fein- remaining split on key divisive issues.

The Chief Executives of the three business organisations, Glyn Roberts, Colin Neill and Stephen Kelly said a fourth strand should be added to the negotiation process to include key civic society organisations.

Their statement reads: "As the leading representative organisations of three sectors, we welcome these talks and urge all the participants to go the extra mile for an inclusive agreement to restore the institutions.

"We need the Executive restored and local Ministers making the key budgetary decisions based on sound evidence-based policy. The business community deserves more than a 'care and maintenance' administration and badly thought out emergency budgets.
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"In these talks we need to see real leadership by our local political parties and an end to the blame game. 2019 cannot be yet another year with no government, no political progress and economic stagnation.

"With much-needed decisions not being made on reform of business rates and infrastructure investment, not addressing an ever-growing skills gap and modernisation of our town centres, Northern Ireland is not just lagging behind the rest of the UK and Ireland, it is in real danger of being left behind internationally.

"We believe that a fourth strand should be established in these talks to include key civic society organisations supporting the parties in building a genuine partnership approach to a rebooted economic agenda and a radically different and more ambitious programme for government."

The fresh talks process was announced last week in a joint statement by Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar following widespread calls for progress in the wake of the murder of journalist Lyra McKee.

The two premiers said the aim of the talks process is to "quickly reestablish" full operation of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement, the NI executive assembly and North-South Ministerial Council.


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