Category: Archive

Paisley, McGuinness make joint sales pitch

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Northern Ireland First Minister Paisley and Deputy First Minister McGuinness are leading a trade delegation from Northern Ireland all this week to New York City and Washington, D.C.
First stop: Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, and a breakfast with newly-appointed stock exchange Chief Executive Duncan Niederauer, guests of the American Ireland Fund and business persons interested in Northern Ireland as a place to invest and do business.
“We have a week-long series of engagements and we want to tell that Northern Ireland is a great place to do business,” said Paisley. “We have entered a new era where we are building economic prosperity. Northern Ireland’s recent performance has been strong, but we are not complacent. We see our relationship with the United States as vital.”
Drawing laughter from his audience at the breakfast, Paisley assured them that if they came to Northern Ireland, “we will treat you to more than a breakfast.”
And, after stock exchange chief Niederauer spoke warmly of his 1990 honeymoon in the Ring of Kerry and his love of Guinness, the First Minister promised to “keep the chief executive away from Bushmills Distillery,” if he visited Northern Ireland.
Paisley continued: “We are all very aware of recent changes in the global economy, and in financial service,” and he recommended to his listeners Northern Ireland’s growing financial services sector.
Focusing on the Northern Ireland Executive’s plans to build the home economy, Deputy First Minister McGuinness noted: “I am very proud to work with Ian Paisley… we have ambitious plans to create 6,500 new jobs in the next four years.”
He offered the business breakfast further encouragement to invest in the North, noting that five years ago, only one direct international flight came to Belfast International Airport.
“Now there are over 30,” he said, while citing the favorable experiences of multinational corporations such as Dupont and Caterpillar.
“Northern Ireland offers a great lifestyle, and world-class universities in Queens University and the University of Ulster.”
McGuinness, until recently an adversary of Paisley in the difficult negotiations which have brought a stable peace, paid tribute to Paisley and the process which had finally ended “eight centuries of conflict,” told those at the breakfast that the key to the breakthrough negotiations had been leadership.
“Without leadership, there will be no resolution of any conflict on the planet,” he said.
Before the two politicians made their sales pitch, chairperson of the American Ireland Fund, Loretta Brennan Glucksman, told the breakfast that, “these politicians are morphing into salesmen, they are selling the economy of Northern Ireland.”
Paisley and McGuinness posed for photographers and television cameras at the historic stock exchange, both holding up the gavel traditionally used to start and stop trading on the trading floor.
At 8:15 a.m. the floor was almost empty, though screens flashed the logo of the American Ireland Fund for the photo-op.
The visiting duo’s sales pitch had an immediate effect later on Monday morning, when at New York City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg also hosted the trade delegation and promised to lead his own delegation to Northern Ireland in 2008.
Accompanying Paisley and McGuinness was Northern Ireland Executive Minister for Enterprise Nigel Dodds.
Dodds told reporters: “I strongly believe that in America in particular, business leaders value personal contacts very highly.”
There is certainly evidence from recent months that the American connection has been paying dividends for the new Northern Ireland economy. Financial services giant Citigroup is now established in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, with 500 people employed. And the Bank of Ireland recently located its hedge fund management center in Belfast.
Key to the success of the ministerial tour is the presentation of a united front, showing American business leaders that former adversaries are now working in unison.
On Wednesday, the delegation visited the NASDAQ stock exchange where Paisley and Adams pushed a button to start trading, with the historic moment being broadcast live on the NASDAQ screen in Times Square.
Also on Wednesday the delegation will make its way to Washington, D.C. for further meetings, ending on Friday with a meeting at the White House with President George W. Bush.
Summing up the aims of the delegation, Paisley told his Wall Street audience: “The best way to see the product is to come and see it for yourselves.”

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