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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Irish Bombs Temper Investors' Talk

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania -- As hundreds of U.S. business executives met to learn why they should consider investing in Northern Ireland, two bomb explosions in the British-ruled province may have given them pause.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor called for American, British and Irish companies to help the province develop and prosper.

But as Kantor gave the keynote address Monday at the first U.S.-sponsored conference on Northern Ireland, two bombs rocked the British army's headquarters in the province, wounding as many as 31 people and damaging the facade of peaceful certainty the meeting aimed to publicize.

Bruce Robinson, chief executive for the Industrial Development Board of Northern Ireland, said news of the bombings arrived after Kantor's speech.

Robinson quoted U.S. Senator George Mitchell, a special adviser to President Clinton on economic initiatives in Northern Ireland, as saying the attack "underscores the need for a conference such as this."

Representatives of du Pont, Raytheon, Fruit of the Loom and about 200 other mostly American companies met to learn more about investing in and trading with Northern Ireland and adjacent counties in the Republic of Ireland.

Robinson downplayed the possible effect of Monday's bombing.

"It certainly introduces uncertainty, but investment decisions are carefully thought through," he said. "We have been successful in winning investment by appealing to people's long-term view."

Robinson cited an English-speaking, computer-literate workforce and low operating costs.