Here are some excerpts from the speech by Chris Lyttle MLA (subject to change on delivery): “Greater efforts are needed to unlock potential savings and job opportunities by increased partnership working with the Irish government on a cross-border basis.
“Creating jobs and tackling high unemployment must be a priority for the Executive and North -South Ministerial Council at this difficult time and feel it is important that we identify specific potential growth sectors on which to focus, such as; renewable energy, tourism and infrastructure.
“In terms of renewable energy, the island of Ireland has excellent access to wind and tidal power but governments have some way to go to capitalise on this resource in comparison. Potential employment opportunities in this sector range from manufacturing jobs, to maintenance work at wind power plants or agricultural biomass production. It is important that we work together to capitalise on our own resources in this sector to maximise job creation but also for sustainability.
“By 2020 EU targets demand 20% of energy to come from renewable sources and whilst the UK and Ireland targets are lower as 15% and 16% respectively it is critical that we work together to improve our innovation and productivity in this sector.
“I am aware of existing North-South cooperation in the area of Tourism and would agree that promoting Northern Ireland and Ireland as a joint destination to visitors from America, Europe and all over the world is of economic benefit to this region. Whilst the Northern Ireland Tourist Board has made progress we are still behind in tourist spending and we need to ensure anyone visiting Ireland is encouraged to include all that Northern Ireland has to offer in their stay. We need to do all we can to ensure Northern Ireland is regarded as a vital part of any Irish tourist experience in order to maximise and spread the economic benefit of this opportunity.
“In terms of trade, north-south exchange increased by 70% in the last decade and investment by the Irish government in Northern Ireland has also risen significantly.
“The important work of InterTradeIreland should be supported and developed to help increase trade, research & development and tendering co-operation across the island even further and help our business services sector to sustain and create jobs at this very difficult time. We continue to be told that businesses find bureaucracy and red tape an issue north and south and that standardisation of regulations and access to information must also be achieved to assist improved productivity and job opportunities.
“Other areas of cooperation such as health and transport have also demonstrated how savings and opportunities can be created from shared service delivery and investment. All of this will require strong political leadership. The Alliance Assembly Manifesto for 2011 identified the importance of improved North-South co-operation to realise savings and help create the job opportunities necessary for economic recovery in Northern Ireland.”