Remarks with Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, and Northern Ireland deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness
Secretary of State
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. We are so delighted to host this important investment and business conference for Northern Ireland. And I’m delighted to be, once again, able to meet with and catch up with both Peter and Martin. I call them that because we’ve known each other for a very long time. And it’s encouraging to see the progress that has occurred in the last several years under their leadership and stewardship, and I’m looking forward to continuing to support your efforts.
Do you want to say something, Peter?
FIRST MINISTER ROBINSON: Well, first, again, to welcome the fact that the U.S. Administration has been so helpful to Northern Ireland and providing us with the facility here, and through Declan to be able to get the key decision-takers a number of very substantial U.S., indeed international, companies.
I don’t always say this, but I really do wish the press had been in there this morning. Obviously, this (inaudible), but I think you would have been very encouraged to hear the statements, the testimony given by the companies that are already in Northern Ireland. I think unanimously, one after the other, indicating that the key element of their decision to come to Northern Ireland and the key reason why they’ve expanded their businesses is the people of Northern Ireland themselves, the young, well-educated workforce, the loyalty that they give to the company that employs them, the low (inaudible) rate that results in keeping down the costs, trading costs down because they pick it up quickly.
And not because we have a low-cost environment; we have a cost-competitive environment in Northern Ireland. So we have a package that I think is very clearly what is attractive, and as we move out of a recession, people start to look to expand and extend their businesses, I believe we have the proper (inaudible) that could attract anyone from anywhere around the world to Northern Ireland.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Martin.
DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER MCGUINNESS: Well, I too want to express my deepest thanks and gratitude to Secretary of State Clinton and to her husband for a very long engagement with us on what is undoubtedly one of the most successful peace processes in the world today, a peace process that would not have succeeded were it not for the efforts of the Clintons. And we, the people of Ireland, will always be in their debt.
(Inaudible) we now have a situation where as we move forward with very stable institutions, we have a situation where the next big challenge for us is the economic challenge (inaudible), and to see the Clintons still involved in that. The visit to Derry just a couple of weeks ago by President Clinton, the organization of this wonderful event here at the State Department, the very magnificent turnout there are to see you, many multinational companies, all of them very engaged and all of them extolling the virtues, as Peter has rightly said, of our people – a dedicated people, a loyal people, people that do want to work. And people here are anxious to build stable and better futures for themselves and for their communities.
I remember over two years ago people said – they all said at the time of what was the beginning of the world recession, “There’s no point in going to the United States of America. How can you expect to get jobs into North America?” Yet Peter and I did come here with the support of Secretary of State Clinton, the support of her husband. We went to the west coast. Universal came to Belfast, HBO came to Belfast, employing hundreds of people. They’re still there at this moment in time. New York Stock Exchange have come to the north. And we’ve now seen two more important announcements today and we believe, absolutely confident to say, further, even bigger announcements in the time ahead.
So, as I say, we will always be indebted to the Clintons, and in particular today to Secretary of State Clinton for this massive lift-up that we’ve got in terms of putting before the U.S. business administration all of the propositions that we have to offer and the great hope that we will see further investment which will continue to see us move forward in a very stable way, (inaudible) in peace but also building on economic prosperity.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Great. Thank you. Thank you all very much.