Page last updated at 12:29 GMT, Monday, 14 April 2008 13:29 UK

Deal could lead to 5,000 new jobs

Brian Cowen (l) and Peter Robinson
Brian Cowen and Peter Robinson said thousands of jobs could be created

Five thousand new jobs could be created in Northern Ireland's financial services industry over five years.

Details of a co-operative agreement were announced by the Republic's finance minister Brian Cowen and his northern counterpart Peter Robinson.

Mr Cowen said his government would look favourably on big Dublin financial companies that want to delegate some operations north of the border.

The announcement was made in Belfast on Tuesday.

BBC NI's business editor James Kerr said: "The announcement is as much about signalling a new era of cross border cooperation as it is about job creation.

"Its economic significance shouldn't be underestimated."

The International Financial Services Centre was created in Dublin more than 20 years ago.

Companies that located there were entitled to attractive tax breaks and this brought in many big names in the financial services industry, who create tens of thousands of jobs - but there were strict rules about the way in which the firms could operate.

Now the improving economy in the Republic has made the centre a victim of its own success - and many of the companies located there cannot fill their vacancies.

The importance of this step is not just in terms of the number of jobs it could create in Northern Ireland - but also the quality of the jobs - most will be for graduates and will be well paid.

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The deal was announced at the Northern Ireland Science Park

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