Invest Northern Ireland’ s performance in Derry has been branded “pitiful” following the release of the agency’s latest job creation figures.
SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood was speaking after Invest NI revealed that its Jobs Fund yielded just 456 posts in Derry out a total of 4,177 across the North since the programme was set up in 2011.
Mr Eastwood said while any job creation is positive for the city, the new figures prove that Invest NI is “continuing to fall shockingly short” of addressing Derry’ s jobs crisis
He said: “I welcome any investment in the creation of employment in Derry but for the North’s second city to receive just over 10% of the total jobs created under the programme is a pitiful attempt.
“Derry is suffering a very real jobs crisis and much more must be done by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and Invest NI to address the problem.”
In Limavady the Jobs Fund yielded 81 while in Strabane 72 jobs were created under the programme in the same time period – amounting to a total of 609 in the North West.
DETI has announced that Invest NI’s Jobs Fund has exceeded its target of 4,000 jobs created by March 2014 across the region, but Mr Eastwood has once again called for a specific employment target to be set to address Derry’s unemployment plight.
“Minister Foster would do well to stand by her economic strategy of recognising Derry as a ‘key driver of regional economic growth’ by ensuring positive discrimination for the city and the North West generally.
“Surely the fact that just 10% of the total jobs created under INI’s Jobs Fund since it was set up in 2011 does not comply with the ‘balanced sub-regional growth’ plan published by the minister in her strategy.
“It is essential that Invest NI sets a target to tackle this city’s huge unemployment problem.
“Derry is suffering as the unemployment black spot of Northern Ireland but that need not be the case with a bit of positive discrimination to off-set decades of neglect. The city has much to offer investors and it’s up to Invest Northern Ireland do more to get the message across. It’s obvious that for far too long Invest NI has not adequately promoted our assets - not least of which is a highly skilled, willing and able workforce.
Mr Eastwood has tabled an assembly question to Minister Foster, calling on her to provide details of where the 456 jobs have been created in Derry
“I would be hopeful that Minister Foster can detail where exactly these jobs have been created in Derry.
Mr Eastwood recently challenged Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson to prove their claim that the One Plan target of 1,175 jobs announced for Derry during the 2012-13 financial year had been exceeded.
Mr Eastwood also called on OFMDFM to reveal how many of the jobs promoted locally were actually created in the city.
“If more than 1,175 jobs were announced in Derry between March 2012 and March 2013 then details should be provided of the firms at which they were promoted.The people of Derry deserve more than simple indications that jobs have been announced. OFMDFM must back up its claims with hard facts and show clearly how and where the jobs target has been met.”