Posted on Tuesday 5 February 2019 by John Mulgrew

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The impact of two years of a lack of government on Northern Ireland business cannot be underestimated, one leading company boss has told Ulster Business.

As Northern Ireland marks more than two years without a functioning Executive, Allstate NI boss John Healy said:

“Brexit is Brexit. But I don’t think we should underestimate the importance of how it looks to not have a functioning government here. While there are all sort of strategies and contingencies in place, we are losing an opportunity around moving forward with things that are important.

“That’s things like the fundamental elements, such as skills and infrastructure… people from the outside, looking at investing here, do see that there is no government in place and I would be very surprised if that wasn’t impacting on a lot of people’s decisions.”

As for the impact of Brexit, he says because of the type of export business Allstate is, it’s “pretty shielded from Brexit”.

“Short term, the devaluation in sterling has been positive for us, as an exporter,” he says.

“In the medium term, we have an eye on Brexit, because 15% of our workforce in the North West comes across from Donegal on a daily basis. It’s important for us that (a common travel area) is maintained.”

Meanwhile, The majority of businesses here believe that the lack of an Executive will have a negative impact on the Northern Ireland economy in 2019. And more than half believe that this will also negatively impact on their own business, according to the NI Chamber and BDO’s quarterly economic survey.

“While the economy is not contracting, it is clearly not growing robustly either. This quarter’s survey reveals that weak order books along with falling investment intentions made for a muted end to 2018 for local businesses,” Ann McGregor, chief executive of the NI Chamber said.

“Throughout much of 2018, businesses were subjected to a barrage of political noise and drama, so it’s no surprise that Brexit, along with a lack of an Executive, are having an increasingly negative impact on business growth and investment plans. With little clarity on the trading conditions they’ll face... some companies are understandably holding back on investment plans and making big decisions about their futures.”

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