Wednesday, 23 February 2011

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt". McNarry again.

Before it disappears from view, a quick word on the furore surrounding David McNarry’s comments on Invest NI.  The UUP’s finance spokesman challenged the organisation after grants which it awarded to the international law firm Allen and Overy were offered to staff in London as an inducement to relocate to Belfast.

Ian Parsley cuts to core of the matter when he suggests that McNarry was within his rights to complain that the money was not being used for its correct purpose.  The further argument that the posts are “jobs for Northern Ireland people” is ludicrous, particularly when it is made by a so-called unionist.

At the blog Finbar on Tour McFaggen points out that while some staff will relocate from London, 120 brand new posts will be created in Belfast.  This is a massive firm, bringing well-paid jobs to Northern Ireland, which will benefit the economy.  “You’d think that everyone in NI would be happy about the announcement”, McFaggen argues.

Now the Northern Ireland Conservative have waded into the controversy.  Their Chairman, Irwin Armstrong, launches a pointed attack,  
“MLAs who do not understand the requirements of internationally mobile companies and how professional companies assist their employees to transfer between locations but nevertheless feel the need to criticise Invest NI and the work they do, should think very carefully before they jump into the media to expose their lack of knowledge. They should remember Solomon's words 'Better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.'“
It’s hardly the first time that McNarry’s political radar has gone awry.  His first instinct seems to be to go on the offensive, without thinking about logic or consequences.  The UUP would be incomparably better off without him.

1 comment:

ianjamesparsley said...

My letter in yesterday's News Letter is also relevant here:

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Sir/Madam:

The UUP Finance Spokesperson's line that jobs created by a London law firm should not go to people re-locating from England because they are "jobs for Northern Ireland people" is laced with hypocrisy, prejudice and economic illiteracy.

Firstly, if anyone suggested a job in London should not go to people from Northern Ireland, Unionists would be the first people screaming about it and proclaiming their equality as British citizens. So why should jobs in Northern Ireland not go to fellow British citizens from London?

Secondly, what are "Northern Ireland people" anyway? As far as I am concerned, the Polish people running my local car wash, the Hong Kong Chinese woman who is an MLA, and the Englishman who serves as my local rector have all made Northern Ireland their home and are therefore just as "Northern Irish" as anyone else. Does the UUP disagree with this and, if so, on what basis? Why would they not want more people to come and work here and be "Northern Irish" alongside us?

Thirdly, we should be openly welcoming people transferring skills and salaries to Northern Ireland which otherwise wouldn't exist here and seeking more of them. Those skills will create further employment opportunities, and those salaries will add money to the local economy. Provided it is done in a controlled way, spending public money to that end strikes me as an efficient and sensible way to put our economy back on track.

Most ironic of all is that of the £2.5 million offered to the project, over £1 million is direct subvention to Northern Ireland from taxes on wealth created in and around London! We should not ignore that if we are serious about building a functioning and less subsidised economy we should not fear the day skilled people choose to make Northern Ireland home, but rather the day they don't...

Yours etc,

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