'Invest Belfast' culture must change, to give new jobs to other areas

Mon, 06/07/2020 - 15:34 -- Editor

The bias towards attracting inward investment overwhelmingly into Belfast has to change, says Foyle SDLP MLA Sinead McLaughlin. 

She was speaking after the latest statistical release showing the massive extent to which new inward investment is located in Belfast, at the expense of all of the rest of Northern Ireland. 

Over the three financial years 2017/18 to 2019/20, some 2,406 jobs from new inward investors were located in the Belfast City Council area. Only 517 jobs are located, or scheduled for, other parts of Northern Ireland. The location of 428 jobs is not yet determined. This means more than 82% of new jobs with a known location are sited in Belfast, which has 18% of Northern Ireland’s population. 

“The focus on Belfast at the expense of all other parts of Northern Ireland is an absolute disgrace and a scandal,” said Sinead McLaughlin. “Jobs and investment must be spread across all of Northern Ireland. At present they are overwhelmingly skewed towards Belfast. This must change. 

“New investment focus must be on the areas of greatest need, which particularly means the Derry City and Strabane Council area. While I am pleased that Derry has the second highest level of investment from new investors, it is absurd that while this is the area with the highest unemployment and poverty, yet we have received only 15 jobs from new investors in the last year, while Belfast obtained 890. 

“The minister’s new Economic Advisory Group must focus on spreading investment and rebalancing our economy. I will keep pushing for this.”