Dr Stephen Farry MLA said: “The inauguration of Barack Obama as President is a pivotal moment for both the United States and the wider world, bringing new hope and new opportunity. It can be significant for Northern Ireland in two main respects.
“The first lies with addressing the current economic crisis. The speculation of what an Obama Administration means for the level of US overseas investment misses a much wider point. We are in the midst of a global economic downturn, and Obama will be pivotal to its recovery. Northern Ireland’s economic interests lie squarely with that recovery.
“The second lies in the creation of a shared future. Successive US Administrations have already been leaders on matters such as integrated education. However, the election of a man, with such a multi-identity background, has the potential to further break down barriers in the United States, and act as catalyst for similar change elsewhere, including here in Northern Ireland where divisions and their social and economic consequences sadly remain the norm for many people.”