Pat Ramsey, SDLP MLA for Foyle, is currently flying the flag for the Northern Ireland Assembly on a trade mission to the United States.
The SDLP spokesperson on Employment and Learning is the only Assembly member representing a constituency East of the Bann on the ‘New York, New Belfast’ schedule.
Mr. Ramsey was the keynote speaker at a conference on ‘Building the Beloved Community: Inclusive communities and Policing: Are there lessons from Northern Ireland?”
Mr. Ramsey told ‘the Journal:’ “Of course, there are lessons that America can learn from the transformation of the relationship between the police and the community here. My message, in terms of policing, was one of openness, transparency and equality. Police must be accountable.
“Primarily, however, it is my hope to promote Derry as a location for new business. I have also dedicated the time I have had to holding positive meetings with the directors of Bombardier in order to protect existing Derry jobs as they look to restructure.
“While the trip is entitled ‘New York New Belfast’, I am there to ensure Derry has an equal opportunity to capitalise from these new partnerships.
“I was delighted to be able to speak to, among others, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, the Greater Baltimore economic committee, the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington and to meet with Ambassador David O’Sullivan, of the European Union, to discuss Northern Irish trade agreements with US.”
Mr. Ramsey says that, despite all the economic uncertainty swirling around the Assembly and the “distraction of another flag issue”, the visit has been incredibly positive.
“The reception to the Assembly Business Trust and our ideas has been great,” he says. “We have been able to raise the profile of Northern Ireland as a destination to bring new business. The interest from our American friends has largely been on maximising any opportunities arising from lower rates of corporation tax. We have showcased the North as ideal for media projects, life sciences, and tech companies. We also met many Irish American networks, particularly the top 50 Irish American companies.”
Mr, Ramsey concluded: “I, of course, have championed Derry and the North West with its telecommunication links, skilled workforce and proud history of delivering nationally and internationally.”