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5 March 2014

Question Time: Enterprise, Trade and Investment 4 March 2014



Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster discussed the future of local electricity generation capacity during today’s Question Time. Roy Beggs expressed his concern at our gas supplies and electricity generation after it was brought into focus by the developing problems in Ukraine. The Minister said that she has had discussions with her Westminster counterpart and revealed that “we’re not aware of any issues in relation to the supply of gas in Northern Ireland where we’re totally reliant on our imports from Great Britain”. While gas supplied to Europe from Russia is currently transported through Ukraine, there are alternative pipe line routes that can be used. In terms of electricity generation capacity the new North/South interconnector “is essential to improve electricity infrastructure and network efficiency thereby saving consumers in Northern Ireland an estimated £7m per annum and will enhance our long term security of supply”.

Mrs Foster also discussed the future of Credit Unions. While the types of services Credit Unions can offer are governed by the UK financial services regulators, Northern Ireland Credit Unions can apply to the relevant authorities for permission to offer new services to their customers. The Minister has also received a request for a meeting from the Irish League of Credit Unions to discuss proposals to arrange new banking services and in the meantime she “would encourage any Credit Union who feels that they want to make that step forward, to make that application and will be supported as far as resources will allow in the Department”.

During topical questions the Minister discussed the trade-mission to Singapore, office accommodation, the Milk Cup’s new sponsors and broadband coverage for commercial organisations.