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November 18, 2005



He is a bit of a tube, is Hain. Of course he despises Northern Ireland: it's deeply unfashionable and full of ghastly *bigoted* dour protestants who go to church and have unsophisticated black-and-white morals.

But he should know better than to come out with a line like this on the economy. Particularly to *that* newspaper and *that* journalist.

As to the wider question: Is NI unsustainable economically? I wouldn't have thought so... So long as free enterprise can sink some deeper roots, there are lots of preconditions for prosperityL highly educated population - (until the SF education reforms hit)... good telecoms... good links to UK and Europe... beautiful countryside... strong sense of identity...).

United Irelander


Surely the most worrying thing here for unionists is the fact that a key British government offcial has effectively come out and admitted that the British want rid of NI and the money that it takes to maintain it...


And neither does the Republic of Ireland, UI.


The UK government said (in 1993, was it, in the Downing Street Declaration) that it had "no selfish or strategic interest" in Northern Ireland. So we're used to that by now!

Hain goes somewhat further in his statement, implying we're doomed to economic failure.


Does anyone pay attention to anything Hain says anymore? He is the biggest joke of a secretary of state we have had for a long time, and that's saying something.

United Irelander


"And neither does the Republic of Ireland, UI."

Don't tell porkies, Alex. As our constituion states:

"It is the firm will of the Irish Nation, in harmony and friendship, to unite all the people who share the territory of the island of Ireland, in all the diversity of their identities and traditions, recognising that a united Ireland shall be brought about only by peaceful means with the consent of a majority of the people, democratically expressed, in both jurisdictions in the island."

Hain's comments go WAY further than the Downing Street Declaration. They almost endorse a United Ireland!


I don't think anyone's surprised except you UI. Hain's feelings on the subject have been public knowledge for oh about 30 years.


Hain's remarks were disgraceful and untrue. The main weakness of the NI economy is its over-dependence on the public sector, but over time this will reduce as technology and privatisation (eg. water) reduce the number of public sector jobs. Reducing the number of local authorities from 26 to 7 will be a help as well.


Thinking on this a bit longer... It's not the implied constitutional content of Hain's statement that gets me (we're all used to that, as many of us have pointed out!).

What irritates me is Hain's crappiness in talking down the long term prospects for the economy.

OK - that shouldn't be a surprise either. Labour MPs aren't exactly immersed in the daily realities of running a business. Few have any experience in the productive side of the economy.

But even a lifelong professional poseur-activist like Hain should understand the importance of confidence.

The good folks at Laganside (public sector, as they are) and in Titanic Quarter (semi-public and private sector) have beavered away for years to talk up NI's prospects and make things better. Hundreds of entrepreneurs (still not enough) are doing their bit too, and investing their cash and their futures in NI. Invest Northern Ireland - bloated as it is - is on the team as well.

Hain's throwaway is a slap in the face to all those people and their work (and the investment that we, as taxpayers, have made in their work). I can't see how Hain can now stand up in front of an audience of prospective international investors and sell NI.

We need someone who's on side to do that. We need a believer.

I remember seeing Richard Needham when he was in Ulster, bouncing up and down on Royal Avenue with sheer enthusiasm as he told retailers about the potential for doing business in Belfast. Those were darker days yes - and then he was pushing the new Castlecourt development.

Now with Belfast - and NI generally - on the brink of something that could be really spectacular we *still* need a believer so shine confidence about our future to the world.

Hain has shown that he is not the right man for the job. He should resign.


The economy of Northern Ireland is unsustainable in the long term, but not much more so than that of Cornwall, the North East or Scotland.

Given that Hain used to be part of the provo front group "Troops Out" I don't imagine anyone should take him too seriously. His skin may be orange but his politics are very green.


Ross - I'm sorry but I can't see that the NI economy is "unsustainable". Or indeed the economies of the North East or Cornwall or Scotland.

As Peter says, it could be unsustainable if it continues to be largely based on massive transfers from the Treasury. But that's not the direction we're moving in.

And of course it would be unsustainable if it was shut off from the world. But that's not going to happen either.

With the Republic of Ireland - as our nearest neighbour and a partner in trade, our links to mainland GB, Europe and the rest of the world - everyone on the island of Ireland can prosper, with no one having to give up a jot of their sovereignty or identity.



DST- I don't disagree with you, but I was saying that the current level of public subsidy was unsustainable*, as you and Peter say it is being reformed so it won't need to be sustained like that indefinately.

* I suppose technically a small area like Northern Ireland could be sustained from the Treasury, but it would be bad for pretty much everyone.


Hain is the sort of politician who will say whatever his audience at the time wishes to hear. I could imagine him giving a pro-union speech if the situation called for it.

Andrew McCann


The Constitution speaks of a 'firm will'. Since when has this had any empirical basis?

james orr

DST : "a lifelong professional poseur-activist" - genius! LOL


Aren't we part of a single European economy?

What does an "all-Ireland economy" mean? There's nothing to stop trade between NI and ROI currently. If businesses want to do so - go ahead, guys!

Fact is: the UK market is far bigger, and the European market bigger still. Why worry about an "all-Ireland economy" - aim higher!


Northern Ireland is the number 2 economy on a two-economy island, and is rock bottom of the UK regional economy list too.

It can only aim higher when it catches up those regions immediately surrounding it.


Yeah, but if its aims are merely to sell more stuff to the Republic it'll not get very far.

Sell more stuff to bigger markets - like the UK, Europe and beyond!


I admire your gumption and go get em attitude Willowfield. Maybe you should be made Secretary of State.


Couldn't do much worse than Hain.

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