Efforts to create a world-class Northern Ireland economy will fail if division in society is not also addressed, according to the chief executive of Northern Irelandís Community Relations Council (CRC). Speaking to mark Community Relations Week, which includes more than 140 events across Northern Ireland this week, Dr Duncan Morrow says that improving and expanding the economy must go hand-in-hand with a major push to end intimidation and segregation.
“Growing a dynamic, innovative economy is vital to the future well-being of Northern Ireland. Initiatives such as the US investment conference next week are therefore extremely welcome,” says Dr Morrow.
“However, in our view, the economy cannot achieve its potential, and efforts to grow the economy will continue to be significantly hindered, if division is not at the same time being addressed at its root.
“Shrewd international investors will continue to think twice about putting their money into a society that is fundamentally divided and the much talked about cost of duplication will continue to weigh heavily on the public purse. If employment is to be created in the most marginal areas, then firms must be able to attract workers to work there and people need to be free to move safely on their way to work. At the moment, none of this can be taken for granted.
“Community Relations Week showcases the important work that is going on across Northern Ireland to tackle division, involving the voluntary, public and private sectors. It also takes place just before the current Executive’s first anniversary.
“I believe that now is a time of considerable opportunity for Northern Ireland economically and socially and I would call on everyone in society, including government, business and members of the general community to play their part in ensuring that division does not continue to hamper Northern Ireland from achieving its potential. Government of course has a leading role to play in this, but creating a shared future is everyone’s responsibility,” Dr Morrow adds.
More than 140 events are taking place this week in every county as part of Community Relations Week. Community Relations Week is coordinated by the Community Relations Council, with events organised by voluntary and community sector organisations, local councils, public bodies and private sector organisations.