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Northern politicians need to get back to business in October

Northern politicians need to get back to business in October

DUBLIN: The Boston headquartered IT security specialist Rapid7 is recruiting a “talent scout” for its software innovation centre in Belfast which will celebrate its first year in the city next month.

The company, which plans to create 75 jobs in the North by 2016, says it is a very exciting time for its “rapidly expanding Belfast office” .

But what brought Rapid7 – which recently reported a year- on-year 44 per cent increase in total revenue for the second quarter of 2015 to $25.8 million (€22.8m) – to the North?

According to chief executive Corey Thomas, his interest was sparked by a meeting with then first minister Peter Robinson and deputy first minister Martin McGuinness in October 2013 when they were on a trade mission to the United States.

Addressing a business event in Boston, Robinson said: “Northern Ireland has come a long way since the devolved administration; politically, socially and economically. We have many of the building blocks in place to take our economy to a higher level.”

Fast forward nearly two years and not many people would agree today. It is not that Northern Ireland is not still looking for investment and business from Boston – far from it, as highlighted by this week’s visit by the Lord Mayor of Belfast to the city.

Sinn Féin councillor Arder Carson, a former butcher, plans to build on the Sister City Agreement signed between Boston and Belfast last year and sell the attractions of the city to a new audience.

“We are building on our international relations and also extending a welcome to new investment and tourism opportunities between our cities,” the mayor said.

He will be heavily promoting an ice-hockey tournament in Belfast in November which, it is hoped, will attract a new generation of tourists to the city.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association Friendship Four ice-hockey college tournament will be played over the US Thanksgiving weekend – in Belfast’s SSE Arena – the first time the games have been played outside of the US.

City officials hope this will bring large numbers of not just local ice-hockey fans but also those from further afield like the US, Britain and Ireland.