» Thursday, May 8, 2008

Northern Ireland

The Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) began by giving the assembled press a flavour of the Prime Minister’s speech that he would be making later that day. The speech would be made to an audience of American investors and would be setting out in very strong terms, the case for them to invest in Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister would say that Northern Ireland was open, flexible, a hub for skills and innovation and a great place to invest. One specific announcement the Prime Minister would be making would be in relation to the amount of assets sales that the Northern Ireland Executive could retain for reinvestment in Northern Ireland. In the PMS’s words, the Prime Minister would say that we would allow over the next three years the Northern Ireland Executive to retain 100% of the proceeds from sales of public sector assets, up to a new limit of £2.2billion. That was a doubling of the existing figure and an unprecedented deal for Northern Ireland.

Asked if that included Stormont Castle, the PMS said he did not think anyone was suggesting that, but it covered public sector surplus land and other assets.

Put that the DUP were looking for greater flexibility in the economy and now that was guaranteed, they would support the Prime Minister over the issue of 42 days detention, the PMS said that this announcement was about increasing investment and infrastructure in Northern Ireland and enhancing the attractiveness of Northern Ireland as a place to invest, which was what the conference was all about.

Asked why the figure was £2.2billion, the PMS replied that that was an approximate doubling of the existing figure and was over the next three years. Put that there had been a process a year or two ago where buildings were being sold off, the PMS advised people to check with the Northern Ireland office and the Treasury on the specifics of that.

original source.

Briefing took place at 16:45 | Search for related news

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