The Stormont Executive has agreed to establish a ministerial subgroup tasked with delivering a more balanced regional economy, with an initial focus on the North West, Sinn Fein MLA Martin McGuinness has revealed.
Mr. McGuinnness was speaking after convening a meeting today with the Enterprise, Employment and Environment Ministers to discuss possible initiatives to help grow Derry’s economy and create employment.
“I proposed that the relevant ministers should come together to discuss the economic situation in the north west and I was pleased to co-chair today’s discussion with the First Minister Peter Robinson,” he said.
“We had a very useful discussion around a number of areas including what we, as an Executive, can do to take forward the One Plan for Derry’s regeneration, the need to expand the university and to improve the infrastructure links to the city.
“In particular, a united approach from all Executive parties will help us deliver on the commitment given to me by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny that the Irish Government will seek to restore their £400m. contribution to the A5 project.
“There was broad consensus that more can be done to assist the economic regeneration of the north west and I particularly welcome the commitment from the Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry that he plans to bid for funds to construct a new teaching block at Magee in the coming months. Sinn Fein will certainly support that bid when it comes forward.
“We also discussed a number of specific actions that Invest NI can take to help attract jobs and investment to Derry by, for example, prioritising the city as a ‘Digital Industries’ hub and seeking to secure foreign direct investment as an anchor for the Ebrington site. I look forward to continuing to engage with the Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster with regard to these in the time ahead.
“The issue of regional economic disparities and the impact which past under-investment continues to have on areas like the north west needs to be a priority for the entire Executive and we have today agreed to establish a ministerial subgroup to explore how we can best redress that legacy. The initial focus of that group will be on the north west, which still suffers from the highest levels of unemployment here.
“It’s important to realise that there has been much good work done in recent years in Derry, including the development of the Fort George and Ebrington sites and the ongoing investment in the city by world-leading companies such as Fujitsu and Seagate.
“However, I strongly believe that the potential of Derry and the wider North West is massive and the kind of united Executive approach seen today can help us achieve it.”