North investment `roadshow' makes opening pitch for help in New York

 

Belfast's and London's joint effort to present Northern Ireland as a prime European gateway for American investment opened in New York yesterday with a pitch blending economic incentives and emotive appeals for US help to underpin the fledgling peace.

Jointly led by the First Minister, Mr David Trimble, and the Deputy First Minister, Mr Seamus Mallon, the Industrial Development Board-sponsored "North American Roadshow" will cover 11 US and Canadian cities in the next three weeks.

Mr Trimble and Mr Mallon were seated side by side on a dais at the formal launch of the roadshow at the Sheraton New York Hotel in Manhattan.

They were flanked by the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Dr Mo Mowlam, and the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Gordon Brown, and two members of the Clinton administration, the Deputy Secretary of Labour, Ms Kathryn Higgins, and Mr Jim Lyons, President Clinton's special adviser on economic initiatives for Ireland.

After being welcomed to New York by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the politicians individually presented the case for north American investment in a new, peaceful and politically-stable Northern Ireland.

Dr Mowlam told an assembled gathering of close to 200, drawn heavily from New York's Irish-American business and political elite, that Northern Ireland now wanted to show a new face to north America, a face not scarred by violence but one characterised by hope.

Mr Brown said the British government wanted to construct a new prosperity in Northern Ireland as momentous as that peace.

Mr Seamus Mallon described Northern Ireland as a new country where partnership had replaced division, a place that "means business and wants to do business".

Mr Trimble said Northern Ireland was now looking to the US to match its political investment there with renewed economic investment.

Ms Higgins and Mr Lyons, who is also US Observer to the International Fund for Ireland, stressed the Clinton administration's continued commitment to the quest for peace and stability in the North.