I joined with a smiling Gregory Campbell, the irrepressible Basil McCrea and Cllrs Nuala McAllister, Kate Mullan and Jim Rodgers for this lip-dub video in aid of BBC Children In Need Appeal which takes place on Friday 13 November. If you donate a few bob at the Pudsey website, I will promise not to release the tape which actually has my voice on it.
I take my hat off to the government of Quebec for making a timely and bold intervention in support of plane and train manufacturer Bombardier — which is also Ireland’s largest manufacturing company with over 5,000 workers in Belfast.
By investing almost £500m in its most famed manufacturer, the Quebec government is putting its money where its mouth is (joindre le geste à la parole, as they say in those parts) and making a big and bold bet on the success of the troubled C-Series jet.
It’s my hope that if we can secure a political deal in the North in coming weeks, it will be followed by similar confident investments in our local economy. And since London still controls so many of the fiscal levers here, that means Mr Cameron will have to loosen the purse strings.
For without the fiscal firepower it needs, efforts by the Stormont Executive to turbocharge the local economy after a string of setbacks — Michelin in Ballymena and Dunnes Stores in west Belfast this week alone — will be in vain.
Building an economy starts with building confidence. And that requires a meaningful budget. And if the British PM needs evidence of that, he could look to the Québec commitment to Bombardier or, indeed, to Canada, where a new progressive government has just been elected on a platform of ‘Jobs, Growth, Investment’.
Thankfully, there is one body, unencumbered by Westminster budgetary straitjackets, which is following that lead: Belfast City Council which recently published an inspiring blueprint for transforming the city centre with a wave of investments. Our Canadian cousins would approve.
The Assembly Finance Committee continues to probe the NAMA-Cerberus scandal and appearing at committee as part of our investigation this week was the Permanent Secretary at the Department, David Sterling (first on video), who was followed by developer Paddy Kearney (third on video), best know for his role in the Maple 10 controversy, and his advisor Alan Mains (second in video). The investigation continues to gather pace and I remain confident the guilty parties in this “dirty scheme” will be identified and brought to book.
Legendary New York Irish rocker Larry Kirwan of Black 47 was in Belfast this week with 42 fans of his Sirius XM Radio show Celtic Crush. I caught up with him after the group had toured both sides of the peacelines in Belfast.