To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) for what precise purpose the International Fund for Ireland investment company was established, with particular reference to the provision of venture capital for higher risk projects not likely to attract conventional sources of capital; and if he will make a statement;(2) how many projects in Northern Ireland have been allocated financial assistance from the International Fund for Ireland investment company and have
(a) received direct grants and (b) received venture capital;
(3) what proportion of venture capital assigned to the International Fund for Ireland investment company has been set aside to assist new start-up projects; and how much to date has been allocated to new business projects;
(4) what evidence he has that projects appraised, approved, and supported by the Industrial Development Board are likely to attract support from the International Fund for Ireland investment company; and whether the International Fund for Ireland investment company has an in-house capability to assess projects.
Under the terms of article 9 of the agreement between the Governments of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, concerning the International Fund for Ireland, the board of the fund was enjoined to establish two investment companies, one in each part of Ireland, to identify the risk capital needs of existing or new industrial and commercial enterprises and to provide, on sound commercial criteria, equity capital or loans. The board of the fund has accordingly incorporated two subsidiary investment companies—IFI (Northern) Investments Ltd. and IFI (Southern) Investment Ltd. Although the board of the fund was appointed by the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, it is independent of them. Accordingly, questions relating to the administration of the fund, including investment policy, are matters for the board of the fund and should be addressed to the chairman.