‘Derry needs special attention from Stormont’

Colum Eastwood.
Colum Eastwood.

Successive failures in the delivery of key projects including the expansion of Magee Campus and the A5 and A6 road upgrades will condemn Derry to a future of economic stagnation and prolonged unemployment crisis, SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood has said.

Speaking after the latest labour figures confirmed that Derry remains at the top of the unemployment benefit claimants league table, the Foyle MLA called on the Executive to champion the projects identified to drive Derry’s economic recovery.

Mr Eastwood said: “The Executive needs to make Derry a special case in terms of economic development because it is the stand out blackspot in terms of unemployment not only in the North but across England, Scotland and Wales.

“Derry has the drive needed to flourish economically but is dependent on the delivery of several catalytic infrastructure projects to reach its potential.

“The lack of an Executive commitment to the expansion of Magee Campus detailed in the One Plan is unacceptable to the people of Derry.

“Equally unacceptable are the repeated delays on the delivery of key infrastructural projects to improve access to the city from Dublin and Belfast, and the recent OFMDFM-backed move to locate the North’s first enterprise zone in Coleraine rather than Derry.

Mr Eastwood said the latest Northern Ireland Labour Force figures highlight the depth of the unemployment crisis being experienced in Derry.

“While any reduction in the number unemployment claimants is to be welcomed, the latest figures are another stark reminder that Derry needs special attention from Stormont’s leadership when it comes to job creation. Others areas of the North are showing much greater signs of recovery in terms of reductions in the number of unemployment benefits claimants.

“The latest figures are further evidence that special measures are needed to address decades of neglect in terms of investment in job creation in the North West.

WSpecial measures could include the creation of a cross-border North West Enterprise Zone which would boost investment, promote economic growth and create jobs in the area.”

Mr Eastwood has also called for more transparency on job creation figures in Derry after it was revealed that just over 30% of people who stopped claiming unemployment benefit across the North last month actually found work.

The full monthly labour market report can be found online at www.detini.gov.uk/labour_market_report_-_august_2014__final_-2.pdf?rev=0