Derry people 'angry' at persistent unemployment and poverty, claims MLA

Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin has said the people of Derry are 'angry' at persistently high levels of unemployment and poverty and has demanded 'justice for Derry.'

Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 3:43 pm
Sinéad McLaughlin

She made the claim at the Stormont Assembly this week.

"My role here is to represent the people of Derry, and I have to tell the Assembly that people in Derry are angry. They are angry because our city has the highest unemployment in the North of Ireland, which has been the case for many years; because the rate of poverty in our council area is the highest in the North, which has also been the case for many years; because the people who live in Derry and Strabane have the lowest rate of pay of any council area in the North; and because Derry has very high levels of poverty-related illness," she said.

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Ms. McLaughlin said that not enough jobs have been promoted in Derry and that more needs to be done to support university expansion in the city.

"John Hume campaigned for a university for Derry over 50 years ago, yet we still have only a quarter of a university with fewer than 4,000 full-time students, many of whom are on near-permanent placements elsewhere. Yes, we have a medical school and the promise of more students.

"When the student places for the faculty of life and health sciences were announced for Magee, the DUP's former Economy Minister expressed concern that they were not going to Coleraine. 'New Decade, New Approach' promises 10,000 students at Magee, but we need delivery not just a commitment," she said.

The SDLP MLA anticipated claims of grumbling and stated: "I know that some people in Belfast talk about the 'Derry whinge', but this is the Derry solution. We do not want pity; we want jobs, prosperity and skills. We keep telling others how to achieve that and how to increase the tax revenues for our Government's needs.

"The answer is to have more university places and more vocational places at the North West Regional College. It is about boosting the skills that create jobs and prosperity. That is what has happened in Belfast, and good for it, but, if it is right for Belfast, why is it not also right for Derry?

"We have poverty due to low incomes in Derry, but we do not have a poverty of spirit or ideas. We know what needs to be done: we just need the two parties that lead the Government — Sinn Féin and the DUP — to deliver what is needed...I demand justice for Derry."