‘Scandalous neglect’ of Derry, claims MLA

Press Eye Ltd -  August 3rd 2010. The scene at Derry early this morning as PSNI officer investigate the car bomb which exploded shortly after 3 am. The Mayor of Derry, Councillor Colum Eastwood chatting to Speaker of the House Willie Hay at the scene.'Photo Lorcan Doherty Presseye.com
Press Eye Ltd - August 3rd 2010. The scene at Derry early this morning as PSNI officer investigate the car bomb which exploded shortly after 3 am. The Mayor of Derry, Councillor Colum Eastwood chatting to Speaker of the House Willie Hay at the scene.'Photo Lorcan Doherty Presseye.com

Shocking new figures reveal the true extent of Invest NI’s “scandalous neglect” of Derry, it has been claimed.

SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood says the latest information he has obtained on Invest NI’s job creation record in Derry, “amounts to nothing less than a scandal.”

Last month the Derry MLA revealed that only 2% of Invest NI’s total spend supported companies in the city last year.

Now he says new figures further reveal that Invest NI creates fewer high quality, high paid jobs in Derry than in any other area of the north.

The former Mayor of Derry says that for far too long “Derry has been at the heart of Ireland’s history but at the fringe of its economic expansion.”

The new statistics, obtained through a series of ministerial questions, reveal that of the 297 jobs created by Invest NI in Derry during the 2010/11 financial year only 6% were salaried above the Northern Ireland Private Sector Median Wage (NIPSM) of just over £18,000.

Over the same time period, more than 80% of all Invest NI created jobs across the north offered a wage above that £18k level.

The figures further reveal that 100% of jobs promoted in North Belfast, 96% in East Belfast and 66% in South Belfast were salaried above the private sector’s median wage level.

“Equality has been a word used repeatedly by many in leadership at Stormont, it appears that the term does not apply to economic management and regional investment,” Mr Eastwood told the ‘Journal’ yesterday.

The MLA says Derry has little hope of retaining “the talent of our young if employment in this city is dramatically below the wages levels of other regions in the north.”

“The scandal of these numbers demonstrate conclusively, however, that this Executive is not delivering on jobs for Derry. This city is often accused of overstating its own neglect by Stormont’s leadership. They are providing neither the quality nor quantity of job which this city and its people deserve,” he says.

An Invest NI spokeswoman says the economic development body works “to support and encourage investment in all regions.”

“It is the investor who decides where to locate their investment project, not Invest NI, and their decision is based on a number of factors including if there is an existing company location, the skills base, access to transport links, or infrastructure, such as the availability of property, many of which are outside Invest NI’s control.”