Close voices concerns at Investment order

ALLIANCE Finance Spokesman Seamus Close has said that a major opportunity for Northern Ireland will be squandered if the Strategic Investment and Regeneration of Sites Order is passed.

Speaking after it was being debated in the Northern Ireland Grand Committee yesterday, Mr Close also accused former First Minister David Trimble of misrepresenting Alliance in Westminster after he suggested that Alliance had backed the Order.

Mr Close said: “Alliance has voiced concerns about this Order since its contents were first revealed. I believe we are about to miss out on a massive opportunity to improve infrastructure for the people of Northern Ireland, who will be paying for the Government loan that will finance any initiatives.”

“Unfortunately, we have yet to be told what the long-term costs and expenses will be. No-one really knows, and that is far from accountable.”

“We are also missing out on an opportunity for social partnership, as new Government proposals for the Strategic Investment Board deliberately exclude the business and community sectors from having any meaningful say in initiatives that will be around for years to come.”

“This is in complete disregard of what the Assembly’s PPP Working Group recommended, and leaves many key stakeholders’ voices in the public sector without any real, ongoing input. There has been no explanation of why those who were supposed to be an integral part of the strategic decision-making process have now been totally excluded.”

“Finally, why should the Strategic Investment Board come under the remit of OFMDFM, which has hardly been a shining example of efficiency in the Assembly? Any proposals by the SIB will have a long and costly impact; wrong decisions will last for generations. “

“It makes more sense that the SIB works within the structures of the Department of Finance and Personnel, who are responsible for prioritising expenditure in Northern Ireland, after all.”

“The manner in which Direct Rule ministers have developed this controversial Order clearly illustrates why restoring the Assembly is so important, as sections of this legislation look suspiciously like opportunistic empire-building by OFMDFM.”


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