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Arlene Foster missing the real issues of a varying exchange rate

21 January, 2009

Sinn Féin MP MLA for Newry - Armagh, Conor Murphy, has stated that Arlene Foster today missed the real issue of economic development when she commented that the current strength of the euro, dollar and yen can give the north of Ireland a relative competitive advantage.

Speaking today Mr Murphy said:

"Arlene Foster, as the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, is missing the key points when she made reference to the North benefiting from the weakness of the sterling against other currencies.

"The main point is that currency trends tend to see one side of the border benefiting while the other declines economically. This is set to continue as long as we have duplication in our economies and no harmonisation of financial policies.

"What we currently have is a seesaw of trade with counties on one side of the border benefiting while the others suffer. This will undoubtedly affect Newry and other towns in the north when there is a reverse of the currency strengths.

"What we need to ask is, is this sustainable and how is it affecting long term economic growth, especially for those in the border corridor?

"Continuous fluctuations between the two economies are of no strategic benefit to anyone. What we should now be doing is examining ways of cross border co-operation and the establishment of an all Ireland focused economy.

"Since the emergence of the peace process and the creation of a new political dispensation a number of eminent economists and leaders of the business community such as Sir George Quigley , Chairperson of Shortts Plc and Alan Gillespie, Chair of the Ulster Bank Group have endorsed the all-island economy as the way forward.

"This is clearly the only sensible way forward. Arlene Foster, in her ministerial position with major responsibility for the growth of our economy cannot ignore this fact.

"The only way to truly transform the economy across the island of Ireland is to set it in the context of an island-wide strategy for development and regeneration. This means the harmonisation of key taxation policies, pricing, services, and entitlements."

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