‘No systematic problem with exorbitant commerical rents’ - McGuinness

Martin McGuinness.
Martin McGuinness.
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Martin McGuinness

Last week the Deputy First Minister was accused of saying the reason some companies chose not to set-up in Derry was because of high commercial rents.

Mr. McGuinness told the Derry Journal that some people had intentionally mis-portrayed what he had said.

“Some have sought to mis-portray my comments in which I relayed details of a single incident which had been reported to me,” he said.

“This related to a potential investor who had considered a particular premises in Derry but had been deterred by the high cost of rent. At no stage did I say this was a symptomatic issue or that rents in Derry are too high as a general rule. Perhaps this was an isolated case and I look forward to clarifying that with the Chamber of Commerce when I meet them later this week.

“But the wider point I was making is that there is a responsibility on us all – working together - to ensure Derry attracts and retain more inward investment.”

Mr. McGuinness went on say that his commitment to Derry remained a priority and pointed to the investment given by the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister to the city as evidence of his determination to develop Derry and help the economy grow.

“The Chamber of Commerce has rightfully pointed out, there is also a responsibility on the Executive to deliver on its commitments, particularly around infrastructural and skills development.

“However, I don’t think anyone can doubt my commitment to this city and you only have to look at the investment which my Department and the wider Executive has made in recent years on things like the development of Ebrington, Fort George, the Peace Bridge, the relocation of the entire DARD HQ to the North West, the City of Culture, £120 million investment at Altnagelvin Hospital and the new science park to see the massive benefits that have been brought to Derry.”

Mr. McGuinness added: “And while much has been delivered, there are obviously a lot of challenges ahead and I particularly share the frustration around the delay to the A5 project for example, not least because the Executive had agreed the money to build that road. But the A5 has been delayed by a court ruling, not any lack of commitment from the Executive. We all have to respect due process and allow the legal issues to be resolved, no matter how frustrating that may be.”