Corporation tax devolution delay will hurt Derry, says former Secretary of State

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Former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson has expressed frustration that Derry is continuing to suffer a competitive disadvantage against Letterkenny after it was indicated that the devolution of corporation tax won’t proceed in 2018 as planned unless a competent power-sharing Executive is established.

The Tory MP lamented the fact that the limited decentralisation of taxation, which has been argued for by business and an umbrella of local political parties for years, is likely to be delayed unless a deal can be cut at Stormont.

Current Northern Ireland Office Minister Kris Hopkins indicated London will not proceed with the devolution of corporation tax unless there’s political consensus in Belfast.

“It is a devolved matter but, as we have said for some time, the Executive are required to demonstrate their competence on moneys,” said Mr. Hopkins at Westminster on Monday.

“There is a fundamental bit missing, because we need an Executive in order to demonstrate that in the first place.

“I agree that we want to see corporation tax delivered, too, but we need an Assembly in place to be able to move forward.”

During the same debate, Mr. Patterson, who served as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland between 2010 and 2012, said Derry will continue to lose out if the impasse is not resolved.

He said: “The current situation is exasperating for me, having got this measure through - having got complete unity among Northern Ireland parties and the support of almost all Northern Ireland business - and knowing the tremendous good it has done.

“The hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) is sitting there and I have visited his constituency.

“Just over the border, in Letterkenny, an extraordinary amount of investment is being made because of the corporation tax rate there, yet so much of that could have gone to Londonderry if the rate had been set in Northern Ireland.”

The former Northern Ireland Office Minister added: “The powers are there, if only local politicians would grab the opportunity and establish an Executive.”