THE Chief Executives of Pubs of Ulster and the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association met with Dr Richard Haass and Professor Meghan O’Sullivan on Thursday morning.
In a joint statement, Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Pubs of Ulster and Glyn Roberts, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) said:
“We welcome the opportunity to meet with Dr Richard Haass and Professor O’Sullivan and we are encouraged to hear of the support they have for the hospitality and retail sectors in Northern Ireland.
“We asked him to continue to back us to help boost confidence and let people know that Northern Ireland is very much open for business.”
“Resolving issues around the past, parades, flags and identity are essential if we are to move our economy forward.
“Divided societies are bad for business and will limit the economic potential of Northern Ireland. Economic issues need to be part of these talks and are a critical element of a Shared Future.
“Some of the worst poverty, unemployment and dereliction can be found on both sides of interfaces and we outlined the need for greater investment in those areas as part of wider strategy.
“The bottom line is that most businesses, particularly in the service sector, depend on people coming through the door and this is where the greatest and most immediate support is needed.
“We need to capitalise on great initiatives such as Backin’ Belfast and ensure that one of the key economic drivers of our economy is protected and enhanced.
“The work of Richard Haass and his team here is vitally important because it shows that Northern Ireland is serious about working together and continuing to move forward and must compete as an international tourist destination.
“Our hospitality and retail sectors are central to making that aspiration a reality.
“Pubs of Ulster and NIIRTA are also working right across the board to make sure that every lever that can be used to create a more sustainable environment for the service sector is being pulled at the NI Executive, Assembly and Westminster level.
“Our focus is on our members, particularly at this time, who are the lifeblood of the towns and cities across Northern Ireland.
“Many of our town city centres are shared spaces, where people, shop, socialise, work and increasingly are living and their well-being is essential to vital economic growth.”