Derry needs ‘greater share of the spoils’

SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood. 1301JM03
SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood. 1301JM03

New figures detailing Invest NI’s spending in Derry support the city’s need for a “greater share of the economic spoils” a local MLA has said.

SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood’s comments come only weeks after Invest NI - the body tasked with the North’s economic development - revealed they had spent £7.8million, and promoted 481 jobs in Derry during the 2012/13 financial year.

In late June Des Gartland, Manager of Invest NI’s North West Regional Office said their performance in the city was “positive” and said it should go “some way to addressing the criticism and concerns which have been directed at Invest NI about its performance here.”

But Mr Eastwood has now said new figures he obtained from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment compound concerns around Invest NI’s performance in Derry.

“Invest NI, from their own institutional perspective, are pleased with these figures because they mark a small improvement on recent years. That is their right,” the former Mayor of Derry told the ‘Journal’.

“It is, however, the right of Derry’s people to expect much more than small improvements.”

The figures he obtained through a question asked in the Assembly reveal the total amount offered to companies in the Foyle Westminster constituency last year totalled £5.16million - a figure dwarfed by the financial assistance given to companies in South Belfast (£18.37m), Upper Bann (£10.62m) and Mid Ulster (£10.19m).

Furthermore the figures reveal that while 200 new jobs were promoted by inward investment projects supported by Invest NI during 2012/13 in Foyle, 908 were promoted in South Belfast.

Mr Eastwood said the onus is now on Stormont’s political leadership to address the trend within the figures.

“For some time now I have been keen to highlight that the trend in these figures are as much a political problem as they are economic.

“In other words, the buck stops with Stormont’s leadership. It is they who hold responsibility for the distribution of our economic fate.

“It is they who pull the strings of economic policy, a policy which is clearly not working for this city,” he said.

The SDLP MLA continued: “No doubt these sentiments will be portrayed as another bout of whinging. The cold, hard fact of these figures cannot be disputed though.

“Derry’s case for a greater share of the economic spoils is not based on whinging or cultural anecdote. It is based proven statistical evidence, evidence provided by the department itself.”