SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood has said that figures revealing the scale of underinvestment in communities west of the Bann point to an effective repartitioning of Northern Ireland along an east/west axis that has sold the most deprived communities short.
Commenting on figures obtained by The Detail, Mr Eastwood said:“There isn’t a single person in Derry who thinks we’re getting a fair deal from regional investment. The figures obtained by The Detail expose the huge scale of chronic underinvestment in our city and in communities west of the Bann.
“In the last three and a half years, over 80% of funding offers for indigenous businesses have been made to those in the east. Despite having the highest levels of unemployment, Derry has received only 3.6% of offers. There is no other way to describe it – the North has been repartitioned along an east/west investment axis and it is totally unacceptable.
“For years the SDLP has been calling for new and innovative funding models that will deliver the skills base and infrastructure developments that the North West needs. We have been at the front of the growing calls for a City Deal that will deliver more power to Derry to determine our own economic destiny. We have proposed specific investment managers in each key regional office of Invest NI to work with international sales teams to close deals that will benefit the most deprived communities. But most importantly we have repeatedly called for bespoke sub-regional investment strategies that will identify skills clusters and tailor opportunities based on the profile of local areas.
“The abject failure of successive DUP Ministers to spread the wealth generating potential of the North across the entire region must be challenged. The SDLP has radical proposals to address the issues and we will not be found wanting.”