An MLA has expressed concern over the lack of civil servants from Stormont’s culture and enterprise departments based in the city - despite Derry’s status as city of culture and its appalling unemployment record.
SDLP assembly member Colum Eastwood says the fact that neither the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) or the Department Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) have any civil servants, of any grade, working in the Derry City Council area represents a huge failure of ministerial responsibility and governmental power.
“With the City of Culture less than 10 months away, not one DCAL civil servant is working from the Derry area,” he says.
“With the highest unemployment in the North, not one DETI civil servant is working from the Derry area.
“Decentralisation not only offers a necessary equality of job distribution from devolved government, it also makes economic sense.”
The former Mayor of Derry says if the city’s economy was to capitalise on the events surrounding City of Culture it was vital civil servants were working locally.
“At the opening of Ebrington Square last week, both the First and Deputy First Minister’s gave emphasis to the fact that they hoped much of Derry’s future growth and enterprise would be fashioned from a mixture of tourism combined with small, creative industries’.
“I welcome this emphasis, it is a core element and ethos of the ambition in our agreed ‘One Plan’.
“If, however, Stormont’s leadership are real, are serious, about delivering economic growth, surely it would make sense to position some of those tasked with the implementation of governmental policy in the locality they profess to want to develop.”
Mr Eastwood called on both department’s Ministers to outline “a process of decentralisation to ensure that this iniquity is not let continue.”