Robinson - "keep focused on making this place prosperous"

DUP Leader Gavin Robinson MP has welcomed the Shadow Secretary of State Hilary Benn to Lagan Valley where the local DUP Association was holding a business engagement breakfast.

By Gavin Robinson MP

Belfast East

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During his remarks Mr Robinson said,

“I am delighted to welcome the Shadow Secretary of State to Northern Ireland. I commend him for his leadership and very direct efforts to cement stability in recent weeks.

The DUP has worked with both Labour and Conservative governments in Westminster to deliver for Northern Ireland. Our MPs are unashamedly pro-Northern Ireland. We have a mandate to stand up for Northern Ireland in Parliament and get the best deal for the people we represent.

As a result of our work in Parliament, Northern Ireland will be the first region in Europe to provide 100% fibre broadband to every home. The £150m secured by the DUP in 2017 has been transformational for rural communities with the best part of 100,000 homes getting fibre broadband for the first time.

Our work has also been transformational for Northern Ireland in terms of breathing new life into the ship building and defence industries. Both these sectors have an enormous supply chain reaching throughout Northern Ireland. I was in Ballymena on Tuesday and there is another success story in how a green engineering hub has been created and is thriving where cleaner and greener buses are being exported across the world with technology developed and built in County Antrim.

Northern Ireland is writing a new chapter in economic success. We have new and emerging industries making their mark on the global stage. Belfast has been named one of the world's top 15 Digital Economies of the Future and ranked 2nd in UK (9th in Europe) in a poll of Top 25 Tech Cities of the Future by the Financial Times. We must also think of the success story of our film and TV sector.

When I was growing up, Northern Ireland’s unemployment rate was north of 12% and the highest in the UK. In the last quarter of 2023, Northern Ireland had the lowest unemployment rate of the whole UK at 2.6%. Yes, we have long term inactivity issues, but let’s remember the mental trauma we endured for 30 years. Of course there is going to be a long-term impact.

Having shook off the shackles of violence, with stability, Northern Ireland can be an economic powerhouse for generations to come. But it requires us to keep moving forward and requires us all to make the right choices.

With almost a decade in Westminster, I know that there are times to say ‘yes’ and times to say ‘no’ but there are also times to bank progress and keep working. Northern Ireland can’t stand still and it certainty can’t be allowed to roll backwards. We must keep focused on the big objective of making this place prosperous for all who live here.

The last thing Northern Ireland needs is the distraction of a divisive border poll. We need to work together and make this place work by boosting our economy, fixing our NHS and ensuring our schools are world class.”

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