The Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland met with the First and deputy First Ministers of Northern Ireland today to discuss progress on the joint UK government and NI executive economic pact launched last year.
The Prime Minister welcomed the economic progress in Northern Ireland since the launch of the joint UK government and NI executive economic pact launched last year. There was agreement that there was a better feel about the economy in Northern Ireland and that it was becoming a more and more attractive place to invest. They agreed to continue to share ideas on how best to enhance the infrastructure of Northern Ireland to help maintain and bring in new investment.
On building a shared future they all welcomed progress made in projects to bring young people together - while at the same time helping to invest in schools - through shared campuses and services. There was encouragement that thousands of young people were involved in projects to boost cross-community and civic responsibility.
On the ‘Haass’ issues of parades, flags and the past the Prime Minister welcomed the imminent resumption of talks between parties in Northern Ireland and he offered continued UK government support in helping parties bring about an agreement.
On the issue of devolved corporation tax for Northern Ireland the Prime Minister acknowledged the broad enthusiasm for this possible measure, which could help boost investment, but said the final decision would not be made until after September 2014.
On the issue of welfare reform the Prime Minister encouraged the First Minister and deputy First Minister to follow the UK government’s position in reforming the system so that it always pays to work, while helping others stuck on benefits to find a job. The PM made clear that the deal on welfare on the table is the only deal on offer and that there are no more flexibilities available from the UK government.
The Prime Minister wished the First and deputy First Ministers well in the forthcoming talks and committed to do what he could to help the institutions and people of Northern Ireland build a prosperous and united community for the future.