Bertie Ahern was trying to persuade David Trimble to merge the Northern and Republic foreign direct investment agencies (FDI) at the time of the Good Friday deal, the former Taoiseach said yesterday.
r Ahern revealed he made the proposal for a North-South body because on all his trade missions “no one ever asked if Dublin and Belfast were separate or Buncrana and Derry – they saw us as one”.
It could have led to “much more investment in poorer areas and places that felt they never benefited from an end to the troubles,” he said of a merger between Invest Northern Ireland and the Industrial Development Agency (IDA).
This has been said primarily in loyalist areas, he added, saying: “We have to prove to them that there are benefits.”
Mr Ahern told the Good Friday Committee: “Secondly, it is a sad reality that some of the things we had hoped for have not materialised.
“Business in the north is good and tourism is good, but I still find it a shame that David Trimble – I’ve tried my best to convince David Trimble to bring Invest Northern Ireland and the IDA together.
“I think it would have worked really well for business. He saw the point in it, to be fair to him. I know he’s a politician, but he was also an academic and he saw the point in it – but couldn’t deliver it.”
Mr Ahern added: “I’ve read the numbers. The reality is that if you take the last 25 years and where we have gone down south, with all our difficulties and through periods of recession, the Northern Ireland economy is a long way behind.
“It’s about growth and development. You did well. But I would have hoped 25 years ago that the rising tide would lift all boats fairly easily. That didn’t happen. So that’s still a challenge.
“This is particularly true in some areas, notably in Belfast but also in Derry where people feel they haven’t seen the lift they should have.
“So I say investment is important and I think that’s why the US is still so important because they can influence that. We have to do that.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/bertie-ahern-tried-to-persuade-david-trimble-to-merge-islands-foreign-direct-investment-agencies-42083802.html Bertie Ahern tried to persuade David Trimble to merge the island’s foreign direct investment agencies