Economy Minister has no commitment to North West, says Councillor Rory Farrell

Wed, 07/04/2021 - 12:42 -- Editor

SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell has said he has "no faith" in Economy Minister Diane Dodds to deliver change within Invest NI.

Speaking at Council on a motion calling on the Department for the Economy to develop a 'dedicated North West Economic Policy Framework' to address regional economic imbalance and inequality, the Ballyarnett representative said: "The North West is Belfast's poor relation, and that is partly due to the North's economic policy which does nothing to assist areas with the highest unemployment and the highest economic inactivity and that's this council area, by the way.

"There's a couple of stats in terms of Invest NI that everybody really needs to be aware of. In the last three financial years there were 687 Invest NI foreign investor visits to Belfast and 15 to Derry. So, for every visit in Derry, there were 45 in Belfast.

"Last year between January and September there were 1176 jobs announced by Invest NI in Belfast and 29 in Derry. So, for every job announced in Derry there were 40 announced in Belfast."

Cllr Farrell continued: "That needs the change. There needs to be a specific plan which directs resources to the North West and sets clear and challenging targets for Invest NI.

"And I'm going to be frank, I have no faith in Diane Dodds to deliver the change needed.

"We had a delegation at this month's Business & Culture committee to discuss this very issue and no one from the minister's department turned up - that tells us everything we need to know about where the minister's priorities lie."

Cllr Farrell concluded: "This in my view is an issue for the entire Executive. And the proposed North West Economic Policy Framework should be included in the Programme for Government."