Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan and Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade Brendan Smith has called for an all-island industrial promotion agency to ensure that key investment opportunities in Ireland are secured and developed.

Northern Irish companies have been involved in a number of trade promotion visits organised by Enterprise Ireland and the IDA over the past 6 years. Extensive links have also been forged between Irish State agencies and Invest Northern Ireland to further develop relations into the future and the establishment of an all-island agency would bolster those opportunities.

Deputy Smith commented, “I was extremely disappointed by the disparaging and untrue remarks made by Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster a fortnight ago when she accused the Irish government of talking down the Northern Irish economy. It has never been the case that an Irish government has had an agenda to sully the reputation of Northern Ireland in order to compete for jobs.

“In fact, the over the last 6 years, companies from Northern Ireland have been involved in at least 12 Enterprise Ireland trade promotion visits and 3 IDA missions. I have always been a strong advocate for intensifying relations between the various business and economic agencies North and South to enable them to sell an all-island product. This was something I was particularly conscious of during my time as Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Over many years there has been a close working relationship between the Agriculture Departments North and South of the Border.

“First Minister Foster’s comments were designed to drive a wedge between economic and business relations on either side of the border, when what we need to attract investment to the island is a stronger bond between the various agencies and bodies. This approach will build on the foundations of the Good Friday Agreement and has the potential to reap huge rewards for the entire island”, concluded Deputy Smith.