Ring-fenced structural funds must be a key ask for Northern Ireland

Philip Smith MLA, the Ulster Unionist Party's Finance spokesperson, has stated that access to ring-fenced funding for infrastructure should be a key ask of national government in the post-EU era.

Philip Smith said:

"This week we have engaged with a range of organisations in Brussels and it is very clear that Northern Ireland needs a plan, not only to identify the challenges, but also the opportunities, in a post-EU era.

"An area which is most at risk is our access to structural funds. It may be possible to secure single farm payments and social funds through to 2020, but why would the EU wish to invest in long term infrastructure projects during that period? Therefore securing ring-fenced infrastructure funds has to be a key ask if HMG is to help make Northern Ireland more attractive as a place to invest and enhance the prosperity of our people.

"So far very little has been forthcoming from the Northern Ireland Executive. If you contrast the inaction of the Executive with that of the City of London who have appointed Jeremy Browne, an ex-Government Minister, to represent their interests, Northern Ireland has a lot of catching up to do to ensure our interests are well represented in the UK's negotiations with the EU.

“We note that First Minister Foster & the Finance Minister are separately meeting the Brexit Minister today. This appears to be another example of a lack of joined up government on this key issue.

“Again, as the Official Opposition, we ask where is the Executive's vision, where is its plan? As the most impacted region of the UK, Northern Ireland deserves much better.”

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