‘North-South projects can deliver economic prosperity’ – Ritchie

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Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Speaking during an opposition day debate on Northern Ireland in the House of Commons SDLP MP for South Down Margaret Ritchie has spoken of the need to build on the Good Friday Agreement and build economic development in Northern Ireland.

Speaking following the debate to Newry Times, Ritchie stated, “I welcome the Labour Party bringing this motion to the House of Commons and offering the opportunity to discuss issues that are of vital importance in bringing progress to Northern Ireland.

“We have a degree of stability and that is to be welcomed but increasingly people are saying that is not enough. Economic regeneration lies at the heart of creating a prosperity process to build on the existing peace process

“We need to focus on identifiable North- South opportunities for economic co-operation and development. For example it is vital that we grasp the opportunity offered by the Narrow Water Bridge and that the Finance Minister puts his efforts behind it.

“This project, and others like it, are the key to unlocking our island economy to provide jobs and it is incredibly frustrating to see obstacles being put up by the current administration.

Ritchie continued, “There is also an onus on the Conservative-led government at Westminster to give local politicians more political levers to get our own economy moving. The government have continually prevaricated and delayed over devolving corporation tax and this seems to be off the political agenda now.

“Action to rebuild the economy is needed urgently if we are not to leave a generation of young people out of work. In saying this, economic development is also dependent on our local parties showing leadership in dealing with our current problems and bringing leadership to issues of flags, symbols and dealing with the past.

She added, “As we mark the 15th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement we should draw on its ethos for inspiration as we try to build a truly shared society with economic opportunities for all.”

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