In a hard-hitting statement, SDLP economy spokesperson Sinead Bradley has called on DUP First Minister Arlene Foster and her Economy Minister Simon Hamilton to provide evidence of their claims that the Irish Government is attempting to ‘poach’ businesses and inward investment from Northern Ireland.
Ms Bradley said that the comment was “a pitiful excuse for the DUP’s pitiful performance with the Northern Ireland Economy, a ministerial portfolio which they have held, and which Arlene Foster was personally responsible for, for the last decade.
“Not for the first time, Arlene Foster has made incredible accusations against the Irish Government for apparently attempting to ‘poach’ investment. But to date, successive DUP economy Ministers have been unable to substantiate these claims with hard evidence. Well it’s time they did. Rather than dealing in Chinese whispers or innuendo, Arlene Foster and Simon Hamilton should show us the facts. It’s time to put up or shut up.
“The reality is, of course, that the Irish Government is overseeing economic acceleration and expansion at a much higher rate than that of the Executive. Their investment in skills, physical and digital infrastructure and sector specific targeted VAT reductions has stimulated growth. In the absence of any evidence to support their claims, the DUP’s negative whinging will come across as a sad excuse for their sad performance with our economy. The reversion to old school Paisleyism – if in doubt blame Dublin – will not fly.
“The SDLP has today submitted an FOI request to the Department for the Economy and Invest NI seeking all correspondence that Simon Hamilton and Arlene Foster have had with Alastair Hamilton about the alleged ‘investment poaching’. If it’s as significant a concern as they say, there’ll be documented evidence of high level conversations they’ve had with their investment agency.
“The DUP faithful may think Arlene’s on fire but under her watch, elements of our economy have gone up in smoke. The disastrous management of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme is evidence enough of that. The First Minister should reflect on her own record before attacking others.”