InvestNI ‘must review potential investor locations policy’

Sinn F�in's Maeve McLaughlin. (0806MM30)
Sinn F�in's Maeve McLaughlin. (0806MM30)

There have again been calls for InvestNI to review how it chooses locations for potential investment.

Foyle Sinn Fein MLA Maeve McLaughlin said the Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster should explain “the regional disparities in relation to the Foyle constituency in particular and the North West in general.”

She said: “In June of this year I asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) to provide a breakdown of the 13,870 jobs promoted and the £784m investment by INI from 2011/12 – 2012/13 across all eighteen constituencies in the North.

“The answer showed that 46% of the jobs promoted went to eight constituencies located in and around the Belfast metropolitan area, specifically Belfast East, North, South and West; Lagan Valley; North Down; South Antrim and; Strangford. The remaining 54% was spread across the other constituencies, with Foyle receiving only 6%. The answer also showed that 56% of the planned investment by INI from 2011/12 – 2012/13 went to the same eight constituencies. Of the remaining 44% again the Foyle constituency received only 6%. This is just not good enough!

“In further questions submitted to the Minister in June, specifically in relation to the Jobs Fund, of the 2,699 jobs created and 5,060 jobs promoted, a similar trend transpired. The answer clearly indicated that 48% of the new jobs promoted by INI from 2011/12 – 2012/13 went to those same eight constituencies in an around Belfast. Of the remaining jobs promoted the Foyle constituency’s share amounted to a mere 7% of the total. For new jobs created through the Jobs Fund from 2011/12 – 2012/13, 11% came to the Foyle constituency.

The Derry MLA continued: “Undoubtedly, there is a trend - investments made and jobs promoted and created by INI are heavily concentrated in and around Belfast. Derry is the second city in the North and the fourth largest city across Ireland and as such I challenge INI and the DETI Minister to explain the regional disparities in relation to the Foyle constituency in particular and the North West in general. Both INI and the DETI insist that they have no requirement to target areas of need or regional disparities and that they have no tools to do so, even if they wished to.

“I do not accept this this position. There is a requirement in the Programme for Government to tackle regional disparities which puts an onus on the Minister and INI to promote investment on the basis of objective need. I will continue to challenge this position to ensure that these disparities are addressed and the Foyle constituency gets its fair share of investment and job opportunities,” she said.