Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure, Rose Conway Walsh TD, has highlighted the importance of discussions around the broad economic performance of Ireland’s economies – South and North, in preparation for a referendum on Irish unity.
Speaking following a meeting of the Good Friday Agreement Committee, Teachta Walsh said:
“I welcome the discussion arising out of the thoughtful presentations from professors John Doyle, John Fitzgerald and Gareth Hetherington at the most recent meeting of the Good Friday Agreement Committee.
“The contributions were part of a series of meetings organised by the Good Friday Agreement Committee about the constitutional future of Ireland.
“The issues raised included: the economic cost of partition; the growing strength of the all-Ireland economy; the high levels of foreign direct investment in the economy of the South and the benefits of this to the overall economy; the lower levels of foreign direct investment in the economy of the North and the disadvantages of this to the overall economy.
“The meeting also discussed the complementary contribution that third level education and the institutes of technology play in assisting the development of the economy of the South.
“Concerns were expressed at the underdeveloped IT sector in the north; continued academic selection; low levels of skills in the workforce; long-term unemployment; its place as the lowest economically active region out of twelve regions in the UK and the poor state of its infrastructure.
“The meeting heard that the North’s economy would benefit significantly if there was political certainty with the re-establishment of the executive and assembly; a significant health intervention; an energy strategy with a focus on off-shore wind turbines located in the port of Belfast and a sustained economic focus on Derry City – which was described as key to the revival of the North-West
“The meeting heard calls for a single health service on the island; a sovereign wealth fun for the island; a national strategic investment plan; a popular streamlined system for student placements in universities north to south and south to north and all-island plans for transport, roads, energy and the environment.
“The open-ended nature of the discussion allowed for a free flow of ideas and proved the importance of the approach by the Good Friday Agreement Committee’s to Ireland’s constitutional future, with, in this instance, a focus on the economy.”