Red carpet treatment for potential Northern Ireland investors part of PM Rishi Sunak vision

Northern Ireland investment conference was part of PM Sunak's vision for NI, however, he won't be attending.

Over 200 investors from 150 companies are being given the red carpet treatment in Northern Ireland over the next two days.

It is all part of the Prime Minister’s vision for an Investment Summit specifically for Northern Ireland which he announced back in April as part of the Good Friday Agreement commemoration.

Rishi Sunak is not here though to see it all come to fruition.  

He has sent a team of government ministers, including the Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris in his place.  

They are visiting businesses and setting out the sales pitch for Northern Ireland.

They will help host the main event at the International Conference Centre at the Waterfront in Belfast on Wednesday.

The UK Government is endeavouring to build on what it believes is its key success of the Windsor Framework, signed with the EU in February.  

It is the deal the Prime Minister believes places Northern Ireland in the ‘unbelievably special position’ of having trade access to both the EU and GB.

The Government hopes to encourage some significant businesses to sign up to invest in Northern Ireland. 

However, if those firms read the small print they will find there is no functioning Stormont Executive, because of the very deal the Government says is good for trade.

There are no local ministers as part of the sales team. 

Some in the business world are quietly saying that is ok, they see this summit as a ‘great opportunity’ and maybe without any local politics in the picture it frees everyone up to focus purely on business.

The Government will certainly put on a decent show.  

There will be drinks and dinners with Northern Ireland’s best produce on tables.  

A few UK Government ministers on the team will help assure investors someone is in charge.  

But a stable, local government is a selling point too.  

So too is getting on with the neighbours.  

The Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris probably won’t want his spat with the Taoiseach over his ‘unhelpful comments’ about a united Ireland to be the focus of any after dinner chat.

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