Northern Ireland

Industrialist: If Stormont "were a business they'd be bankrupt."

One of Northern Ireland's leading industrialists has said if the Stormont Executive "were a business they'd be bankrupt."

Camlin Group chief executive John Cunningham said politicians do not spend enough time dealing with real problems

The company employs 200 people in Lisburn supplying and developing power industry products.

Mr Cunningham made the comments on the BBC One programme, The View.

His factory was used by the Executive and the then Secretary of State Owen Paterson to launch the public consultation on plans to reduce corporation tax two years ago.

Mr Cunningham was asked by BBC One's The View to respond to the latest problems between the DUP and Sinn Fein. His response was scathing.

"I think that it's nonsensical, totally nonsensical," Mr Cunningham said.

"It's like watching children argue, arguing at school. What relevance does it have? Why don't they put it all behind and really look and address the problems that we're facing.

"We're not facing these arguments and these historical things are not going to change the way we go forward.

"They're only going to keep us in the past. They're not going to keep our young people at home. They're not going to put prosperity into the Province. We should put them behind, move on," he added.

Mr Cunningham has complained before that Northern Ireland's education system is failing to produce enough science graduates to keep his business supplied. Increasingly he has to go elsewhere for workers.

He is dismissive of the Executive's claim that its main priority is the economy.

"Perhaps it is, but to grow the economy you have to be doing this sort of thing. You have to be designing and manufacturing. We have problems at the moment. Really serious problems.

"We cannot hire people because there's a tremendous skills shortage. And that's an immediate problem at the moment. That has to be tackled. Taxes are too high. That has to be tackled. There are many issues related to us. Once they start working on that, those, I'll believe what they say.

As for the education system he says "It's an absolute disgrace that our young people are having to leave, that we have a completely inadequate education system, that we simply cannot provide the people that can fuel an industrial programme So that's a total disgrace that we have a divided education system. There's just no logic to those things. And if a government is to be a government it must tackle those issues.

"If they were a business they'd be bankrupt. They've had time, they've had the money, they've had the opportunity. They'd be bankrupt."

"I think it's a matter for the whole community to realise that times are different now. If this place is to survive and prosper it needs to look at things in a new way and there's no time to go back and do things in the way they've been done in the past and any institution which is locked in those traditions is irrelevant."