Dickson: McConnell and Robinson have damaged our international reputation

Alliance Chief Whip, Stewart Dickson MLA, has said that comments made by Pastor James McConnell and First Minister Peter Robinson about Islam have undoubtedly damaged Northern Ireland’s international reputation and efforts to attract inward investment.

Stewart Dickson MLA said: “The comments by Pastor McConnell and Peter Robinson have not only made the national news in the UK, but are hitting the headlines around the world.

“The damage caused to our country’s image is very concerning. Peter Robinson could have at least attempted to make amends by immediately making a public apology and retracting his comments, but six days on, he has done neither.

“How can we build strong relationships with Middle East countries and ask them to invest in Northern Ireland when our First Minister makes such demeaning and disrespectful comments about one of their largest religions?

“Of course, their remarks have the potential to stifle inward investment from across the world, not only the Middle East. Open, welcoming and culturally diverse countries are an attraction to global business leaders and whilst that is the sort of society that the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland want to build, it is not the image that has been portrayed by Pastor McConnell and Peter Robinson.

“The DUP like to claim that they are pro-business, but business leaders have made it very clear that the First Minister’s comments could stifle efforts to attract tourism and inward investment.

“The Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster, must properly address this matter. Her dismissive press release issued last week, which claimed that trade with Muslim countries would not be affected, demonstrated her failure to grasp the seriousness of the situation.

“Her Department must take immediate action to ensure that vital trade opportunities are not lost as a result of these disgraceful remarks. She has a responsibility as a Minister to promote trade, rather than protect her Party leader.”


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