Executive's International Relations Strategy outdated and unfit for purpose, says Bradshaw

Alliance Executive Office Spokesperson Paula Bradshaw, has warned that the Executive's International Relations Strategy is outdated and in urgent need of replacement, having raised questions about how Northern Ireland is to place itself better given significant recent changes in external relationships.

Paula Bradshaw

The South Belfast MLA stated: "I am extremely concerned that the International Relations Strategy has not been updated for more than a decade, despite the significant changes to Northern Ireland's external relationships brought on by Brexit, the pandemic, the Ukraine War and other major geopolitical issues. The current Strategy even refers to NI-CO, an organisation which sadly no longer exists, as a key partner.

"The Executive's International Relations Strategy focuses on getting our 'message' out there, but it is unclear what our message is supposed to be. Remarkably, there is no sign in any Executive Office documentation of a clear sense of purpose to build on the obvious opportunities arising from Northern Ireland's unique dual market access for goods to both the EU and GB markets. There is also no meaningful targets for what 'engagement' is supposed to deliver in terms of concrete outcomes for people living and working in Northern Ireland.

"What we need to hear urgently from the First Minister and Deputy First Minister is what their approach to a new International Relations Strategy will be, taking account of Northern Ireland's unique economic position for international investment, but also of key objectives around issues ranging from tackling climate change to promoting human rights, and encouraging peace-building in divided societies globally.

"Ten weeks on from restoration, it is time we saw concrete action on how the Executive Office is going to lead on international relations work which is up-to-date and fit for purpose.”