First minister under fire for “poaching investment” claim

Posted By: October 31, 2016

Suzanne McGonagle. Irish News (Belfast). Monday, October 31

ARLENE Foster was under fire last night over claims that the Irish government was ‘poaching’ foreign investment from the north.

The DUP leader and first minister made the remarks to her party’s annual conference in Belfast on Saturday in a growing rift over Brexit implications for the border.

Last night the Republic’s foreign affairs minister, Charlie Flanagan, said he was “shocked and concerned” by the remarks and had contacted economy minister Simon Hamilton to air his views.

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness spoke of his concern and said his DUP partner in government had never raised any such issues before.

Mrs. Foster came in for criticism after telling the party faithful that political instability was driving the Republic’s approach to Brexit where “a hard border” already existed in the mind of the government.

Mrs. Foster has already declined an invite to attend an all-Ireland ‘civic dialogue’ event organized by the Enda Kenny in Dublin on Wednesday, branding it a “complete grandstanding exercise”.

Mr. McGuinness said: “I was very surprised to hear Arlene say that at her party conference, given that earlier this week she and I met with a Chinese invest and we were accompanied by the chief executive of Invest NI and this wasn’t mentioned.”

The Sinn Féin politician said there was an onus on the administrations north and south to work together to protect the interests of the people who live on the island of Ireland.

He said the civic dialogue event on Brexit would be a better place to discuss such matters.

Mr. McGuinness said: “From our perspective , what we have to do is recognize the massive challenges that we face in the time ahead.”