US funds go amiss
US funds go amiss

A promised investment fund which was to pump three quarters of a billion dollars into economic projects in the Six Counties has been scrapped, according to reports.

New York City’s “Emerald Fund” spent up to $3 million on its headquarters in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, but the city’s pension funds, which pledged an initial $150 million contribution, failed to deliver.

While then New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson visited Belfast in May 2008 as part of high profile media campaign to promote normalisation and investment, no other equity body made a similar commitment. This apparently led to the decision by New York City Pension Fund to pull back from its involvement.

Recently elected Comptroller for New York City, John Liu, issued a statement stating: “As Comptroller, I am committed to making certain that the pension funds remain diversified and that we achieve the best possible return for our members, retirees and beneficiaries.

“The New York City pension funds have long been a leader in promoting equality through the adoption of the fair employment standards embodied in the MacBride Principles by corporations operating in Northern Ireland and which are held within the New York City’s pension portfolio.

“I will continue to seek investments in Northern Ireland that represent an excellent opportunity to promote economic growth and prosperity while earning a market rate of return.”

A statement released by the fund from its offices in Belfast said Emerald “remains very interested in investment in Northern Ireland and intends to continue to seek attractive opportunities. When it finds them, it will fund them from all sources of capital available to it. The Emerald team is working hard, every day, seeking projects that will benefit Northern Ireland and achieve proper returns for investors.”

Meanwhile, the 26 County Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe has asked for a report into the construction of a $1.5 million luxury residence for the University of Limerick president.

The money for the mansion was donated by Irish American billionaire Chuck Feeney.

The Minister said yesterday that the building of the five-bedroom house seemed “lavish”, given the current economic circumstances.

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