SDLP: Root causes of unemployment must be tackled – Eastwood

SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood
SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood

SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood has called for urgent action from the Executive to address the root causes of Derry’s unemployment crisis.

Mr Eastwood made call as Derry consolidated its position at the top of Northern Ireland’s unemployment claimant league table. The latest job seekers allowance claimant count shows that Derry’s dole queues have been cut by just 5.1% in the last year compared to a 14.5% reduction across Northern Ireland.

Mr Eastwood said: “The Enterprise Minister has today welcomed the fall in Northern Ireland’s overall claimant count and increased job creation as encouraging, it is unfortunate that we can’t say the same for Derry.

“It appears that Derry is being left behind in terms of the recent ‘significant investment and job creation’ heralded by the minister.

“Invest Northern Ireland revealed yesterday that during the first six months of 2014/15, it promoted over 10,800 jobs across the North yet Derry has little to show for that achievement.

“There were a few high profile jobs announcements in Derry over the past couple of years but despite several questions tabled in the Assembly, the Minister cannot or will not confirm how many have actually been created. Meanwhile, the dole queues in Derry have seen little if any reduction, child poverty figures have soared and the census of employment indicates that the job creation vision of the One Plan is falling flat.”

Mr Eastwood said: “Only investment in infrastructure and increasing the skills base will drive job creation and reduce unemployment in Derry.

“It is essential that plans for the expansion of Magee, the regeneration of the Fort George site, the attraction of major private sector investment in Ebrington, and long standing proposals for upgrades in road and rail infrastructures are fast-tracked by the Executive to give Derry the economic opportunities it deserves.”