A decision by four New York City pension funds to invest $150 million (90 million Euros) in infrastructure projects in the North has been widely welcomed. Anyone applying for some of the US investment package must sign up to the MacBride equality principles.
Announcing the investment in New York on Monday, the city’s comptroller, William Thompson, said the funds would invest in the Emerald Infrastructure Development Fund, a new company to be based in Belfast.
“Based on vigorous assessment by our investment consultants, we are confident that there is great potential for long-term investment success in the region due to an historical underinvestment in infrastructure,” Mr Thompson said.
Mr Paisley, who has been in the US for much of this week to promote next month’s investment conference in the North, praised the “vision and commitment” shown by the New York funds in putting together the package.
“Their decision to choose Northern Ireland as a place to do business makes this a truly great day for us and for this city. This investment confirms that Northern Ireland has turned a corner. We are now a sound investment location that can provide the right calibre of people and projects to successfully underpin further inward investment, particularly from the US,” he said.
The four pension funds behind the investment are the New York City Employees Retirement System, the Teacher Retirement System for the City of New York, the New York City Police Pension Fund, and the New York City Fire Department Fund.
“It’s the ordinary people of the United States investing in the ordinary people of the North,” Mr McGuinness said.
The announcement marks the largest public investment from the US in the North and the $150 million injection will target projects in all sectors of the economy.
The New York city comptroller William Thompson said the Emerald Fund would not do business with any company that did not abide by the McBride principles. The principles are strict fair employment guidelines named after former IRA leader Sean MacBride.
“It is something that we continue to believe in, something that we have still been aggressive about across four comptrollers dating back to the late 1980s and we still are committed and have been committed,” Mr Thompson said.
CLINTON ADDRESSES IRISH FORUM
Meanwhile, US Presidential contender Hillary Clinton attended the Irish American Presidential Forum in New York, where she answered a broad range of questions relating to Irish interests.
Ten years after the Good Friday Agreement, said Clinton, “we are clearly on the right path but we cannot become complacent, we cannot let our guard down, there are still the enemies of peace as there always are and we have to remain actively engaged in the work of peacemaking”.
“When I’m president I will continue my deep commitment to Northern Ireland,” she said, adding that she would appoint a White House envoy responsible to the president and tasked with providing diplomatic and economic support to the North.
“We gave come so far and now we need to deal with the remaining issues on the table,” she said.
“It’s important to have a special envoy who reports directly to me rather than having to go and down the chain of command at the State Department. And having an envoy will signal my personal commitment, that it’s not something farmed out to the appropriate desk officer in the State Department but instead someone who reports directly to the president.”
She said she would work personally with the political leaders to ensure the full implementation of the tenets of the Good Friday and St. Andrews agreements.
“I support full devolution as envisaged in the St Andrews agreement and I believe that the transfer of policing and justice powers is a major priority that should be completed as swiftly as possible.”