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Call for Northern Ireland infrastructure investment

Urban regeneration initiatives must form a 'key plank' of the Northern Ireland Executive's economic policy, according to the chairman of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at CBI Northern Ireland's annual dinner, chairman Ian Coulter said that 'physical transformations' were needed to stimulate investment, jobs and growth and that they were needed 'now more than ever' after a difficult five years following the collapse of the country's property sector.

Mr Coulter's comments coincided with a market survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which found that Northern Ireland's building industry 'continued to significantly lag behind the rest of the UK' in the first quarter of this year. Workloads fell across all sectors of the industry, although it was the 'least negative' start to a year since 2008.

The RICS spokesman for Northern Ireland construction, Jim Sammon, said: "Activity is still falling, and the key challenges for the sector remain. Finance is constrained, private sector activity remains scarce, and public sector demand remains constrained. Many firms are increasingly turning to markets outside of Northern Ireland for work."