Robinson and McGuinness stoutly defend the value of foreign investment trips

Do you expect us to fly economy and stay in two-star hotels? asks First Minister. Give me fishing in Donegal any day, adds Deputy First Minister

Ahead of a five-day visit to China starting on Sunday both the First Minister and Deputy First Minister expressed considerable exasperation with some of the local media coverage of recent visits to China, Brazil and the United States.

Ahead of a five-day visit to China starting on Sunday both the First Minister and Deputy First Minister expressed considerable exasperation with some of the local media coverage of recent visits to China, Brazil and the United States.

 


Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness have robustly argued the value of foreign visits and insisted a vital way of bringing jobs and investment to Northern Ireland is by developing personal relationships with international politicians and businesspeople.

Ahead of a five-day visit to China starting on Sunday both the First Minister and Deputy First Minister expressed considerable exasperation with some of the local media coverage of recent visits to China, Brazil and the United States.

Mr Robinson suggested at a briefing for journalists at Stormont Castle yesterday that some of the coverage attempted “to demean Northern Ireland’s political leaders by asking them to take a tent and go into a park . . .”


Credibility
“You take away your own credibility by suggesting that the leaders of a country should go economy class and go into two-star hotels,” he added.

This was a reference to some coverage which queried why Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness flew business class and stayed in five-star hotels during last November’s visit to China and during a trip to Brazil and the United States in the spring. There were also claims that as the November China trip coincided with the Chinese Communist Party’s national conference that they met nobody of any influence.

Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness yesterday said that had already developed a strong personal bond with Chinese vice-premier Madam Liu Yandong and on this trip to Beijing would be meeting her and Chinese commerce, education and foreign relations ministers to build on discussions and developments initiated during Madam Liu’s visit to Northern Ireland in April last year.

“I know that tabloid style you like talking about junkets and jollies and so forth. If some of you would like to pack your bags and come with us you will see how much of a jolly it is - if you can persuade your editors to let you go,” said Mr Robinson to reporters.