Ireland

Northern Ireland political stability ‘important’ for investors – US ambassador

US Ambassador to the UK Jane Hartley was speaking on the BBC Sunday Politics programme (Oli Scarff/PA)
US Ambassador to the UK Jane Hartley was speaking on the BBC Sunday Politics programme (Oli Scarff/PA) US Ambassador to the UK Jane Hartley was speaking on the BBC Sunday Politics programme (Oli Scarff/PA)

Political stability in Northern Ireland is important for American businesses looking to invest in the region, the US ambassador to the UK Jane Hartley has said.

Ms Hartley encouraged DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson to continue with his negotiations over the trade border impasse in an effort to restore the powersharing institutions at Stormont.

Sir Jeffrey told his party conference on Saturday that he believed the Stormont institutions were essential for building the case for the Union.

DUP annual conference
DUP annual conference DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson told his party’s annual conference that powersharing was essential to securing the Union (Liam McBurney/PA)

He updated delegates on his ongoing negotiations with the UK Government over concerns about trade barriers created by the post-Brexit Northern Ireland protocol.

Powersharing is unable to function in Northern Ireland without the participation of the largest unionist party.

The UK and EU agreed the Windsor Framework earlier this year in an attempt to address unionist concerns about the protocol, but the DUP has indicated it will not return to the Stormont Assembly until the Government provides further assurances over Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market.

Ms Hartley told the BBC Sunday Politics programme that restoring Stormont was important for the US, as well as for the people of Northern Ireland.

She said: “Companies, including American companies, like political stability.

“If you are talking to a CEO (chief executive officer) and you are encouraging them to look at Northern Ireland, which I do all the time, it would be important to have a sitting government.”

Around 40 US companies are due to visit Northern Ireland later this month as part of the delegation led by US special envoy Joe Kennedy.

Ms Hartley said: “It is a fantastic group of companies, about 40 companies, many of them have not been to Northern Ireland so it really is to showcase the immense talent pool, the incredible entrepreneurial spirit, the great education system.

Irish Budget 2024
Irish Budget 2024 Tanaiste Micheal Martin said the Windsor Framework must be implemented in full (Brian Lawless/PA)

“There is so much opportunity there and all I do say is, just like any other place, stability is important and having a government to work with is important particularly in the long run.

“So I just encourage Jeffrey to keep trying.”

Meanwhile, Irish Tanaiste Micheal Martin has said it was critical the Windsor Framework was implemented fully and in good faith.

Speaking at his party’s Wolfe Tone commemoration in Co Kildare, he said the framework represented a “significant turning point” in the post-Brexit relationship between Ireland and the UK.

He said: “The framework comprehensively addresses legitimate concerns raised by people and business in Northern Ireland about the post-Brexit arrangements.

“It reaffirms Northern Ireland’s place in the UK’s internal market, while simultaneously giving access to the EU single market for goods.

“It does this while also protecting the all-island economy in respect of goods and cross-border goods trade.

“This access to both markets gives Northern Ireland a way of charting a road to sustained economic and social development.”

He added: “It remains critical that the Windsor Framework is implemented fully and in good faith.

“And it is important to acknowledge too, that the UK has, to date, followed through on its commitments.

“The UK Government has been active in putting in place the necessary safeguards to protect the single market as agreed, as well as working with business in Northern Ireland to ready them for the new trading arrangements.

“As a result, the first set of facilitations under the framework came into effect on October 1.”

He added: “We need to push forward.

“To implement all elements of the Agreement – but also to work to secure the return of the democratic institutions of Northern Ireland.

“No-one benefits from stalemate.

“No-one benefits from entrenched positions.”