Dublin rebuffs Foster’s ‘poach’ claim

Posted By: November 14, 2016

Allison Morris. Irish News (Belfast). Monday, November 14, 2016

Trade missions from the Republic have included representatives from Northern Ireland on 15 occasions, despite Arlene Foster’s claims of “poaching” by the Irish government.

Figures released by the Irish government show that companies from Northern Ireland have been involved in 12 Enterprise Ireland trade promotion visits and three IDA missions in the  last six years.

It comes in response to the allegation by First Minister Foster that the Republic was ‘poaching’ investment away from Northern Ireland.

“[The Republic’s] representatives are sent around the world to talk down our economy and to attempt to poach our investors,” the DUP leader told her party conference last month.

The claim met with criticism from the Irish government and Martin McGuinness, her Sinn Féin partner in government.

Now the Republic’s minister for jobs, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has released the figures in response to a Dáil question from Fianna Fáil foreign affairs spokesman Brendan 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,” Mr Smith said.

“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.”

A DUP spokesman defended the Mrs Foster’s comments and claimed that the Irish government’s approach has changed since the EU referendum decision in June.