Johntinatom
'MAKE NO LITTLE PLANS': Comptroller Tom DiNapoli reviews new development plans for Belfast with Belfast City Council CEO John Walsh and Lord Mayor Tina Black Nuala Purcell

DiNapoli Pledge on Peace Process Support but Cautions against Brexit Protocol Backsliding

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who controls over $220bn of State retirees' funds, has reiterated his determination to rebuild transatlantic links with Belfast post-pandemic.

Addressing the annual New York-New Belfast Conference in the New York Athletic Club in the Big Apple on Friday, he said "the bond between New York and Belfast is stronger than ever before."

"Ours is an unbreakable partnership with a shared commitment to work together to fortify economies and improve the lives of citizens on both of our shores."

SHOWCASE: Alison Metcalfe, VP Tourism Ireland with Joseph and Suzanne Aquino at the annual New York-New Belfast conference

SHOWCASE: Alison Metcalfe, VP Tourism Ireland with Joseph and Suzanne Aquino at the annual New York-New Belfast conference

Under Comptroller DiNapoli's stewardship, the New York Retirement Fund had committed $56m in funds to start-ups in Northern Ireland - the Fund is also invested heavily in US and global companies in the North. "We continue to look for additional investment opportunities in Belfast and surrounding communities, as well as seeking out other opportunities thoughout the North, in Derry, as well as other population centers," he said. Inclusive economic recovery — "doing well for pensioners while doing something good"  — was at the core of the NY investment mission, added Comptroller DiNapoli. 

"My office issued several reports during the pandemic focused on the effects of COVID-19 on New York City's economic sectors and communities — and one of the through lines of those reports was how the pandemic amplified existing disparities in communities of color.

FULL HOUSE: Comptroller DiNapoli addresses the transatlantic conference

FULL HOUSE: Comptroller DiNapoli addresses the transatlantic conference

"We need to look at our current challenges as an opportunity in which we rededicate ourselves to truly addressing those outstanding disparities. Prejudice and oppression is certainly something Northern Ireland has confronted — and in so many ways overcome over the years. Now, more than ever, we must chart a path to an inclusive recovery..by investing in ways that break down barriers rather than building them up."

Citing recent figures which show that Northern Ireland was enjoying the fastest economic growth figures in the UK, the Comptroller told a full house for the annual New York-New Belfast gathering that "there is no doubt that the North's economic success is linked to the Northern Ireland Protocol which allows access to the EU and British markets and protects the region against the challenges of Brexit".

TRANSATLANTIC BRIDGE-BUILDERS: Mayor Black of Belfast in New York with Consul General of Ireland Helena Nolan and husband Sami Dahdouh

TRANSATLANTIC BRIDGE-BUILDERS: Mayor Black of Belfast in New York with Consul General of Ireland Helena Nolan and husband Sami Dahdouh

Added Comptroller DiNapoli: "Over the years, we in New York have stuck by you and worked with you, trying to get more investment in Northern Ireland to build the peace and sustain it. And now, in this critical time, we will remain squarely in your corner. All of us who support the peace process and the Northern Ireland Protocol are concerned about recent threats by the British Government to alter the Protocol, which could undermine the Good Friday Agreement and potentially damage the North's economy and deter foreign direct investment. Rest assured, we are in this together, through whatever comes. We will continue to build upon our partnership."

Also addressing the 13th New York-New Belfast Conference were Leigh Meyer, Belfast Site Head for Citi, Clare Guinness, Belfast Innovation District Director and Andrea Haughian, VP of Invest NI in New York.