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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Alamy Tánaiste Micheál Martin, US Ambassador to Ireland Claire Cronin and US special envoy to Northern Ireland Joe Kennedy III
Northern Ireland

Joe Kennedy: US businesses still interested in Northern Ireland, despite Stormont collapse

Kennedy is the US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland.

THE US SPECIAL envoy for Northern Ireland, Joe Kennedy III, has said that there is still excitement from US businesses in investing in Northern Ireland despite the ongoing stalemate of its powersharing institutions.

He said that the US is still eager to continue to “bet on” the people of Northern Ireland, adding that it wasn’t the only place in the world having challenges with the smooth running of government.

Kennedy was speaking at the Department of Foreign Affairs, having met with Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin.

Martin said the Stormont’s party leaders had expressed a desire to restore the Executive and Assembly.

He said that DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson had indicated there are still outstanding issues with the Windsor Framework to be resolved with the British government, but he believed they could be addressed.

Speaking to reporters, Kennedy said he was looking forward to meeting with the Stormont party leaders during his visit to Belfast.

When asked whether the prolonged delay to restore the Stormont Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive would affect the investment opportunities from US businesses, Kennedy said there was still an interest.

“From all of my interactions and engagements with businesses that are looking to invest or are eager to hear more about opportunities in Northern Ireland, there’s an excitement,” he said.

“There’s a recognition that there’s been a lot in the news on Northern Ireland as of late, particularly with the agreement around the Windsor Framework.

“There’s still obviously some work to be done around the formation of an Executive, but given the 230 businesses that already have operations in Northern Ireland and the stories that they can tell, the success they can demonstrate, there’s a real eagerness to invest.

“I will also say that Northern Ireland isn’t the only area in the world that has been having challenges in having their government run smoothly these days.

“So we are hopeful and optimistic obviously of this process moving forward. I’m eager to to make good on the President’s promise to bring a trade delegation to help show off the opportunities in Northern Ireland and the benefits that I can bring to the people of Northern Ireland.

“Is there some short term challenges that they have to get through? Of course, as I said, there’s short term challenges in a lot of places.

“The United States has bet on the people of Northern Ireland now for decades. We’re eager to continue that.”

Martin added that the Irish government were aware of the outstanding issues the DUP have with the Windsor Framework, but added “I believe they can be resolved”.

When asked what the outstanding issues were, he said: “I think the issues are ones the DUP are working with the British government on and I think if we learn anything from the successful completion of the Windsor Agreement, running commentaries on discussions don’t always achieve agreement, so I’m prepared to allow those discussions to take place.”

“I think all of us have created space to allow those issues to be resolved,” he added

“Our ultimate objective is the restoration of the Assembly and the Executive.

“As I have said so consistently over a decade, when elections happen, I think the people deserve the formation of an assembly or the parliament, and the formation of a government or in this case, the executive, so that their mandate can be fulfilled, and that is fundamental to democracy.

“And also the growing budgetary challenges in Northern Ireland is such that it’s very clear from meeting with parties a fortnight ago that they also accept the earlier restoration of the executive and assembly would enable them to deal with budgetary issues in a more effective way than if it was to be prolonged indefinitely.

“So that’s adding further rationale… to get these issues resolved as soon as we possibly can,” he said.

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