Its report on foreign investment levels in Northern Ireland shows that over the last three years there has been a decline of 70 percent. Foreign investors, especially those from the U.S., uniformly stressed the lack of settled, functioning and stable political structures as a deterrent to investing in Northern Ireland.
Since 1999, the province has seen three governments rise and fall against a background of continued uncertainty. At the same time, of course, there have been outbreaks of mostly loyalist violence, riots, threats of more violence and ugly scenes outside the Holy Cross Catholic Girls School in the Ardoyne and pipe bomb attacks. While the violence is on a minor scale compared to the pre-peace process Northern Ireland, none of it is exactly an enticement to would-be foreign investors. They have drawn the conclusion, reasonably enough, that the political instability breeds social instability, which in turn feeds into violent outbreaks. The lack of political progress after what had seemed like such a great opportunity –