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Trilateral Ministerial Meeting: Agenda

Oral Answers to Questions — Finance – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 17th October 2016.

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Photo of Pat Sheehan Pat Sheehan Sinn Féin 3:15 pm, 17th October 2016

T4. Mr Sheehan asked the Minister of Finance to outline the agenda for the meeting of Finance Ministers and officials to be held on Friday 21 October. (AQT 349/16-21)

Photo of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Sinn Féin

The good news is that we moved it forward to this Friday, so I think that is 21 October. I will meet the Finance Minister of Scotland, Derek Mackay, and the Finance Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, to continue the series of trilateral meetings we have agreed to have. We have agreed to meet in the council offices in Newry. I hope we will be able to involve some of the local councillors, the mayor of Newry and the chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. The whole concept of those trilaterals is to make sure we speak with one voice. When we speak with one voice, we speak for 10 million people. We will have our meeting on Friday. The visiting Finance Ministers will have a chance to see a little of the border region, as well as Belfast the night before, and to meet some representatives of the community and business sectors. Then we will come together and try to plan the best way to approach a series of issues with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury in London on Monday.

Photo of Pat Sheehan Pat Sheehan Sinn Féin

Gabhaim buíochas leis an Aire as ucht a fhreagra. I am aware that the Minister met the Basque Finance Minister in, I think, August. Has he continued to engage with the Basque Government?

Photo of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Sinn Féin

Gabhaim buíochas leis an Chomhalta as an cheist bhreise a chur faoi Euskadi agus faoin chaidreamh atá againn le hEuskadi. I always enjoy saying the name of the Basque finance Minister, Ricardo Gatzagaetxebarria. I met him in August. I am pleased that, in line with the cooperation we have had with Professor Bengoa, he is keen to keep a level of cooperation with us and will send three officials from his Ministry to the trilateral meeting to observe and have some meetings the evening before and through the rest of that day.

It is worth noting that the Basque Country — the Basque autonomous region — where the Finance Minister serves is an economic powerhouse. They have a different system from ours, in that they raise all the taxation and then give to Madrid 6%. There is a spirit of entrepreneurship and enterprise there from which we can learn.