Page last updated at 18:10 GMT, Monday, 16 March 2009

$30m investment set aside for NI

Thomas DiNapoli and Martin McGuinness
Thomas DiNapoli (left) said he was impressed by NI's skills base

A total of US $30m is to be made available for potential investment in Northern Ireland by the New York state retirement fund.

The state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who controls the pension funds of public workers from New York, made the announcement on Monday.

He said he was impressed by NI's "highly skilled workforce".

Deputy First Minister Mr McGuinness said it was a "massive vote of confidence" in the peace process.

While Mr McGuinness was in New York, First Minister Peter Robinson was holding talks with US firms which employ people in Northern Ireland.

The two leaders will meet up again in Washington, where they will meet US President Barack Obama on Tuesday at a St Patrick's Day reception at the White House.

Mr McGuinness said that, despite recent dissident murders, people in the US understood there was opposition to groups derailing the peace process.

"I have to say I am very encouraged by the outcome of our discussions," he said.

Certainly it's not a handout - we have one million working New Yorkers who rely on the pension fund for their retirement - so we are looking for strong returns
Robert Whalen
New York Comptroller's Office
"We have been through a difficult week back home and it was very important to see if people were shaken by it here.

"It is clear that they are not."


However, SDLP leader Mark Durkan warned against people thinking that investment money from the United States comes free.

He said people should remember that interest rates in repaying the US loans can be higher than the banks.

"People need to understand that the Emerald Fund is pension fund money. We are talking about a serious commitment by them and they obviously have to be looking for a return," he said.

Robert Whalen of the New York Comptroller's Office told BBC Radio Ulster that expected returns from the investment were "very much on a case-by-case basis".

He said they had made the "long-term" investment "because there are great opportunities in Northern Ireland".

"Certainly it's not a handout - we have one million working New Yorkers who rely on the pension fund for their retirement - so we are looking for strong returns," he said.

"We think that we can get that, based upon the promise of opportunity that exists right now.

"It's a difficult market globally, but we think that over time there will be very strong returns for us."

He said it was too early to say whether the money would go into a number of large investments or a series of smaller ones.

The first and deputy first ministers, local politicians and Taoiseach Brian Cowen will be in Washington DC for a series of St Patrick's Day events hosted by President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden.

Print Sponsor

NI leaders in talks about movies
12 Mar 09 |  Northern Ireland
NI leaders on way to Los Angeles
11 Mar 09 |  Northern Ireland
Politicians lead annual Paddy's exodus
16 Mar 09 |  Northern Ireland
US funding 'depends on MacBride'
17 Apr 08 |  Northern Ireland
US unveils NI investment package
11 Apr 08 |  Northern Ireland

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific