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Fianna Fáil: All Ireland industrial promotion agency needed

Cavan Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith said it was incorrect for Arlene Foster to suggest that the Irish Government talks down the Northern Irish economy. Picture by Niall Carson, Press Association
Staff Reporter

A FIANNA Fáil TD has called for an all Ireland industrial promotional agency in the wake of claims by First Minister Arlene Foster that southern government officials were poaching investors.

Cavan Monaghan TD Brendan Smith, who also chairs the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs, said he rejected the DUP leader's claims but believed a 32 county approach to the issue would bolster opportunities.

Mrs Foster used her DUP party conference leader's speech to accuse Dublin government officials of talking down the Northern Ireland economy and "poaching" potential investors.

"I was extremely disappointed by the disparaging and untrue remarks made by Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster a fortnight ago when she accused the Irish government of talking down the Northern Irish economy," said Deputy Smith.

"It has never been the case that an Irish government has had an agenda to sully the reputation of Northern Ireland in order to compete for jobs.
“In fact, the over the last six years, companies from Northern Ireland have been involved in at least 12 Enterprise Ireland trade promotion visits and three IDA missions.  I have always been a strong advocate for intensifying relations between the various business and economic agencies north and south to enable them to sell an all-island product. 

This was something I was particularly conscious of during my time as Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Over many years there has been a close working relationship between the Agriculture Departments North and South of the Border."

He said he believed her comments were calculated.

“First Minister Foster’s comments were designed to drive a wedge between economic and business relations on either side of the border, when what we need to attract investment to the island is a stronger bond between the various agencies and bodies.  This approach will build on the foundations of the Good Friday Agreement and has the potential to reap huge rewards for the entire island".  

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