Northern Ireland

NI political reaction to Irish bail-out

The UK has confirmed that it will offer around £7bn to the Irish Republic via a direct bilateral loan as well as contributing to the EU's rescue package which was agreed on Sunday. Northern Ireland politicians have been giving their reaction to the Irish financial bail-out.

Arlene Foster, Enterprise minister

"I indicated to the Assembly this afternoon that I have two real concerns.

"The first is in relation to possible job losses in Northern Ireland.

"We've already witnessed the Bank of Ireland restructuring and the impact that that has had in NI and I'm certainly concerned if more money is put into banks and if they are restructuring, that there may be further possible job losses.

"The second is around the access to finance. I am very concerned that two of our high street banks, the Allied Irish and the Bank of Ireland are now being bailed out again and therefore, will that have an impact on access to finance for companies here in NI?"

Mitchell McLaughlin, Sinn Fein MLA

"It's a sad day because what we want to be able to demonstrate is that the island of Ireland can be self-sufficient and we can have trading relationships with all of our partners, right across the European mainland and wider.

"In the circumstances where sovereignty is being surrendered to unelected bodies, such as the European Central Bank or the IMF, then I think the whole question of democratic resolution to these problems gets put in abeyance."

David McNarry MLA, Ulster Unionist Party finance spokesman

"I recognise the need for the Republic's government to request assistance from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

"Clearly the offer of assistance from our government has to be recognised in that, although it is a loan, it is a genuine offer to our closest neighbour.

"Northern Ireland's business and commerce community has a real interest in the stability of cross-border trade.

"However, one matter of concern which needs to be clarified will be any change to the current situation regarding Nama - Northern Ireland cannot afford a firesale of assets."

Declan O'Loan, SDLP finance and personnel spokesman

"The EU-led bailout in the South may be one of the Republic's darkest days but we must all hope this course of action can now provide stability.

"We need financial certainty on this island and cross-border trade remains a key economic driver for us here in the North.

"While the full impact of this financial turbulence in the South has yet to be felt by the North we must do all that we can to limit its effect on the retail, tourist and banking sectors.

"We must now progress our economies together in order to increase confidence that is essential to the future prosperity of our island."

Naomi Long, Alliance MP

"I am pleased that the UK government is taking a responsible attitude to helping address the problems in the Irish economy. So much investment and so many jobs in Northern Ireland are dependent upon the stability of their Irish economy and their banks.

"Whilst we recognise that this involves a significant amount of money, the cost to the Northern Ireland economy, and that of the rest of the UK, would be massive were the Irish economy to suffer any further.

"The Republic of Ireland is our nearest neighbour, our biggest business partner and our close EU colleague. It would be terrible if we in the UK did not do all we could to help Ireland, not just because it's in our best interests, but also because it's the right thing to do."

David Vance, Traditional Unionist Voice, economics spokesperson

"People across the United Kingdom will be appalled to hear that our government is to contribute around £7bn towards propping up the failed economic and political entity which is the Irish Republic.

"HM Government simply does not have £7bn in loose change to throw into the Irish begging bowl! This has been made abundantly clear following the recent cuts and the impending threat of yet more.

"The UK had the good sense to stay out of the euro and should not, now, be paying for the mistakes of those who joined."

Brian Wilson, Green Party MLA

"The Green Party has been saying for the last 10 years that the situation was totally unsustainable.

"The Green Party was proved right. Unfortunately the chickens have come home to roost and the Green Party happens to be in government.

"People should recognise that the Green Party's predictions were right."