We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
Absolutely. Even when I saw that the debate was scheduled, I thought that I had jinxed the entire thing, and that it certainly would not be third time lucky. However, it is, and I am really pleased to be here, because I am passionate about supporting the economy and businesses in Northern Ireland.
The issue is particularly important at this pivotal time for Northern Ireland and our United Kingdom, of which our businesses are very much part. I will touch on a number of issues relating to business, innovation and the economy in Northern Ireland, and I will raise questions and issues on particular elements. I am grateful to the Minister for being here to respond.
First, I want to paint the broader picture in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland has an incredibly proud industrial and manufacturing history. We have been world leaders. Many companies that were created and thrived in Northern Ireland, and have been world leaders, will be well known to many across the United Kingdom and the world. Northern Ireland has contributed in a valuable way, including to the economy of pre-partition Ireland and of this United Kingdom. We have been world leaders in manufacturing and industry.
Many generations in Northern Ireland have worked, created, innovated and led the way. They have been critical to our economy and the tens of thousands of jobs they created, changing lives. The mighty companies of the past put Belfast and the rest of Northern Ireland on the map. However, as we are all aware, times have changed, and some of those huge, mighty industries of the past have faded away or are disappearing. This is common not only in Belfast and Northern Ireland, but across the United Kingdom and in many other countries.
However, we must build on our incredibly strong foundation to move forward. Having spoken to businesses, universities, and people in my constituency and across Northern Ireland, I believe there is a huge appetite to do that. It is often said that we stand on the shoulders of giants, and that is true when it comes to the economy and business in Northern Ireland. We have a bright and optimistic future if there is application, support and the right environment to help our businesses, economy and companies grow.