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The need to prioritise Northern Ireland’s economic recovery was discussed today at the first meeting of the reconstituted Economic Advisory Group.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds took part in the teleconference alongside the 11 members of the advisory group.

Minister Dodds said: “I look forward to working alongside the Economic Advisory Group as we seek to create a more competitive, inclusive and greener economy.

“The members have an important role to play and I know that their independent advice on economic issues will be critical as I work to implement my economic recovery plan.”

The group discussed their key priorities. There was also a presentation by departmental officials on a new research paper which warns of the need for a swift recovery of output and jobs.

The macroeconomic and sectoral summary research states that the Northern Ireland economy was running 25% to 30% below normal during the Covid-19 lockdown.

It also highlights the risk that unemployment could return to levels not seen since the 1980s with young, disadvantaged and vulnerable people likely to be the hardest hit.

The Minister continued: “The research report we are publishing today provides further evidence of the need to focus strongly on the economy. I intend to work closely and urgently with my Executive colleagues on this issue.”

The Economic Advisory Group’s chair, Ellvena Graham, said: “This was a very positive first meeting.

“It is early days for the group and we know there are serious challenges ahead but I have no doubt that this group will use their extensive business expertise to make a major contribution to helping rebuild our economy.

“Our focus is now on developing our plans for the way ahead and I look forward to sharing further updates in due course.”