Today's Wall Street Journal reports (link should work for non-subs) on an emerging cross-community consensus in Northern Irelannd that the region should get a preferential corporate tax rate to allow it to better complete with the Republic --
A city like Belfast can provide accommodation and office space at far cheaper rates than London and Dublin, while it also has decent transport links with two nearby airports. Northern Ireland's capital also has a steady supply of graduates from its two universities -- many of those are leaving the area now, but could be persuaded to stay if more high-profile businesses set up there.
And those businesses would be attracted by a lower tax rate. Now, as Chancellor, Gordon Brown wasn't very happy about the ability of Microsoft and other tech firms to pull a big chunk of their UK sales revenue into the Republic as royalty payments to low tax subsidiaries, so on the face of it he wouldn't like a differential tax regime within the realm either. On the other hand, it might attract some extra revenue that would otherwise go to the Republic. Hard to know which side of Gordon wins out in that one.
Incidentally, Aer Lingus does seem to think Belfast has good prospects, at least as compared to Shannon, so maybe the logical consequence of a more stable Northern Ireland -- more competition with the Republic -- is beginning to happen.