TRANSATLANTIC BONDS: New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli with Consul General of Ireland in New York Helena Nolan Nuala Purcell

NY-New Belfast Conference: DiNapoli signals more funds for jobs in North of Ireland

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has told the annual New York-New Belfast conference that more funds from Empire State retirees are on the way to the North of Ireland.

Addressing a full-house at the New York Athletic Club on Thursday past, the Comptroller hailed the recent Windsor Framework which gives Northern Ireland unique access to European and UK markets but also said further progress required the return of government at Stormont.

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Comptroller DiNapoli recalled that his decision to invest in the North had been inspired by his first meeting with former enemies and then political allies Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness. "I was surprised when I heard they wanted to come to see me - together," he said.

Under Comptroller DiNapoli's stewardship, and in line with his strategy of "doing good while doing well", New York State Retirees' fund has deployed substantial private equity funds to the North - with its holdings now valued at $52m. 

"It is a pleasure to be here with you once again at the annual New York New Belfast Conference, a celebration of two great cities with an enduring bond, linked in the past and present," he said. "The discussions and presentations included in this year’s conference make this another exciting and essential gathering. I am proud to be part of it."

BELFAST DELEGATION: NY State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli with Frances Murray, Economic Dev Officer at Belfast City Council, Lord Mayor Ryan Murphy and Council CEO John Walsh

BELFAST DELEGATION: NY State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli with Frances Murray, Economic Dev Officer at Belfast City Council, Lord Mayor Ryan Murphy and Council CEO John Walsh

He said the 14th annual conference was taking place in "challenging times". 

"The good news is, New York and Belfast have a long history of standing together during challenging times."

He added: "New York State has had a longstanding interest in Northern Ireland going back more than 30 years, with the adoption of our Northern Ireland Investment Law, better known as the MacBride Principles Law. As we in this room know, the MacBride Principles had a profound effect on corporate America, on the British government, and most importantly, in Northern Ireland, in promoting equal opportunity. As a result, many Catholics in Northern Ireland began to find that they could obtain employment at companies that they previously would not even have dared to apply to, and sectarian harassment in the workplace had been effectively put to an end.

"Above all, the success of the MacBride Principles campaign demonstrated that non-violent initiatives could affect real change on the ground in Northern Ireland. That had a powerful affect in promoting support for the Peace Process that culminated with the Good Friday agreement on April 10, 1998.
Tremendous strides have been made in Northern Ireland in the 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement. Thanks to that remarkable, transformative document, a generation have been able to grow up in peacetime. It remains the foundation for a hopeful future. We look forward to what the current generation of Irish leaders and peacebuilders, Protestant and Catholic, will achieve in the next 25 years."

And the Comptroller, who met earlier this year with U.S. Special Economic Envoy to the North Joseph Kennedy III, welcomed the enhanced government interest in the region - symbolised by the April visit of President Biden. 

In three visits to the North, he said he came away impressed by the "young, highly-skilled workforce, excellent transportation and commercial infrastructure, and the kind of business- friendly environment that can foster economic growth".

In 2020, the New York State Common Retirement Fund committed $30 million to the Northern Ireland market, of which $8.6 million remains available.

"To date, CRF has invested in emerging technology companies and healthcare, as well as more established companies in consumer services, business services, and traditional manufacturing seeking to grow their business in the North. We continue to look for additional investment opportunities in Belfast and surrounding communities, as well as seeking out other opportunities throughout the North, in Derry, as well as other population centers. The new investments Belfast is planning in areas such as health and life sciences, digital and creative industries, and advanced manufacturing all show great promise going forward."

FUNDS' SIGNAL: Comptroller Tom DiNapoli addresses the 14th annual New York-New Belfast gathering

FUNDS' SIGNAL: Comptroller Tom DiNapoli addresses the 14th annual New York-New Belfast gathering

While unable to give full details while the due diligence process was still in train, the Comptroller revealed that an additional funds boost is on the way. 

"I’m happy to tell you we’re currently working on a significant new commitment to invest in Northern Ireland," he added. "Stay tuned as we complete our diligence process."

The Comptroller hailed the Windsor Framework, which allows the North seamless access to European and British markets as key to the region's success. 

"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. The key to that is economic growth with opportunity for all communities. And now, in this critical time, we will remain squarely in your corner. Rest assured, we are in this together. We will continue to build upon our partnership. I’m confident that, despite the challenges ahead, Northern Ireland has the human and physical attributes to sustain itself, and flourish in the future. The resilient people of Northern Ireland have faced enormous challenges over the last 50 years and have met them bravely and resolutely. I am supremely confident they will again. New York and Belfast have an unbreakable partnership. We are bound together with a shared commitment to success and mutual benefit. Today, the ties that unite New York and Belfast have never been stronger. Rest assured, I will do all I can to strengthen our partnership in the years to come.

Among sponsors of the 14th annual New York-New Belfast gathering in the Big Apple were premier partner KPMG, Options IT, a Belfast-headquartered company with a significant staff presence in New York, Mastercard, Tourism Ireland, Duce Construction, Invest Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Bureau, Kalikow of New York, Lagan Specialist Contracting Group of Belfast, Irish American Partnership, the Glens of Antrim Distillery, Belfast City Council and The Regency of Belfast.