Economic Advisory Group (EAG) must redress regional imbalance, says Derry MLA Sinead McLaughlin

A Derry MLA says an expert group set up ten years ago to advise the economy minister on strategy and public policy must redress regional imbalance.
Sinead McLaughlinSinead McLaughlin
Sinead McLaughlin

The Economy Advisory Group was set up by Arlene Foster when she was Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister in 2010. It now advises the Economy Minister Diane Dodds.

SDLP Economy Spokesperson, Sinead McLaughlin MLA said: “Northern Ireland has serious inequalities and removing these must be a priority for the Department for the Economy and the Minister. I am very disappointed that the minister has rejected my requests for this to be a core part of the remit for her EAG and for that group to contain representatives from the North West, who could provide specialist expertise and understanding of these inequalities."

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“It is unacceptable that for years, indeed decades, that Derry and the North West suffer the highest levels of unemployment and the hidden unemployment that is called economic inactivity.

"This must be addressed and it is astonishing to find that we are still hearing arguments that the wider economic interests of Northern Ireland are being considered without addressing the very serious problems of high unemployment and poverty that exists in the North West."

She said she hoped the EAG will make it a priority to consider how to ensure that the parts of Northern Ireland with the highest unemployment and poverty are supported to achieve the highest levels of growth and recovery.

"We know from experience that in recessions it is the areas with the weakest economies that usually suffer the most. There must be additional investment in skills and infrastructure to support the North West achieve a proper economic recovery. The EAG must have the courage and independence to say that and as a core part of their work to identify the sectors which offer the best prospects for increased employment, productivity and growth."

"It is unacceptable for Derry, Strabane and the rest of the North West to be simply told to put up with more of the same.”