Derry’s economy ‘not in good place’

Sinead McLaughlin, chief executive of Derry's Chamber of Commerce.
Sinead McLaughlin, chief executive of Derry's Chamber of Commerce.

Derry’s economy is “not in a good place”, the chief executive of the city’s Chamber of Commerce told MPs yesterday.

Sinead McLaughlin says the current economic situation in the North West is dogged by high unemployment, low wages and weak infrastructure.

Any additional “barriers” brought about by Brexit, she says, will “particularly adversely affect this region.”

Mrs. McLaughlin was among a group of “witnesses” who appeared before Westminster’s Northern Ireland Affairs Committee which met at Derry’s Guildhall yesterday to take evidence on the impact Brexit will have on Derry’s land border with the Republic.

The Committee also heard from representatives of local authorities from both sides of the border.

Mrs. McLaughlin said she would be telling the MPs that the local Chamber of Commerce was very strongly opposed to the introduction of border controls.

She added: “There is now a very strong indication from the government in London that it wants to exit the Single Market and the Customs Union, with the potential implication of customs controls on the border.

“In Northern Ireland, we have a unique relationship with both the Republic and the European Union. A Brexit outcome must provide a solution that resolves the specific challenges faced in Northern Ireland.”

The NI Affairs Committee said the aim of yesterday’s session was to gain an insight into the views of communities, businesses and other organisations located close to the border, and how these should be addressed as part of the negotiations on leaving the EU.

Among the members of the committee are the DUP’s Gregory Campbell, Alasdair McDonnell, of the SDLP, and Kate Hoey, the Northern Ireland-born Labour MP for Vauxhall in London.