Invest NI: Aerospace, Defence and Space

Oral Answers to Questions — Economy – in the Northern Ireland Assembly am 2:30 pm ar 3 Mehefin 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Steve Aiken Steve Aiken UUP 2:30, 3 Mehefin 2024

T6. Dr Aiken asked the Minister for the Economy, after welcoming him back to his rightful place and declaring an interest as the incoming chair of the all-party group on aerospace, defence and space, which Members will agree is a good title, to state, given the challenges that he is aware that the growing aerospace sector in Northern Ireland faces, not least in the skills agenda, what priority he expects Invest NI to give to the aerospace, defence and space sectors, bearing in mind their likely growth in the next couple of years. (AQT 336/22-27)

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

It is incumbent on Invest and the Department to identify areas of priority, particularly clusters. The Member is quite right: there is a growing cluster with some big players, but a lot of small and medium enterprises are involved in advancing the sector. Aerospace touches on the areas of good jobs and productivity, in that there is a lot of innovation and growth in the sector, and it is in line with the priorities that I have set in the Department. Also, with quite a lot of the firms scattered across the North, it offers regional balance. We all operate within a limited budgetary framework, including Invest NI, but we have tried to identify sectors with opportunities for growth. I concur with the Member's view that there are clear opportunities for growth in the sector.

Photo of Steve Aiken Steve Aiken UUP

I thank the Minister for his answer. Will the Minister, therefore, when he looks at his diary, commit to coming to the Farnborough International Airshow, where Northern Ireland will highlight its wares at a series of events? It would be excellent if the Minister were able to find himself there.

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

I am invited to a lot of events, as the Member will be aware. It is a question of juggling the diary to make sure that I can go to as many as I possibly can while retaining a focus on the work that I need to do in the Department. I am always content to consider any invitations that come to me to make sure that I do my best to support all our businesses across the North.