Northern Ireland

EU referendum: Invest NI will not take position on vote

An Invest Northern Ireland sign at its Belfast headquarters

Invest Northern Ireland has said it will not adopt a position on June's European Union referendum, but its 12-person board has considered the issue.

A vote on whether the UK should stay in the EU will be held on 23 June.

Mark Ennis, Invest NI's chairman, said "regardless of the outcome" it will work with local and foreign firms "to drive economic growth."

In Northern Ireland, much of the debate has been on whether a UK exit from the EU would harm the economy.

In 2013, 39% of all Northern Ireland exports went to the Republic of Ireland.

In a statement to the BBC, Mr Ennis said: "Given there is no clarity on what the future relationship between the UK and EU will look like, or what policies the UK will pursue, the potential upside of an exit in the long term is impossible to objectively assess."

But he added that there would be "uncertainty" for business "during any transition period".

An Invest NI spokesperson made clear Mr Ennis was only representing the board's position.

According to Invest NI's website, its 12-member board is drawn from the business, community and education sectors.

"The board recognises economic factors are part of a much wider debate that will influence an individual's decision making," Mr Ennis said.

After the Northern Ireland Assembly election in May, Invest NI will be answerable to the new Department for the Economy.

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