‘Politicians must take action’ - COC

Gerry Kindlon, President, Londonderry Chamber of the Commerce.
Gerry Kindlon, President, Londonderry Chamber of the Commerce.

The President of the Chamber of Commerce in Derry has described the disparity in Invest NI funding between Derry and Belfast as “disappointing”.

Chamber President, Gerry Kindlon, was reacting to the findings of a report into the activity of Invest NI from 2011 to 2014.

The report was carried out by Belfast based investigative journalism organisation, The Detail

“The scale of Invest NI’s focus on Greater Belfast is very disappointing, though no surprise.

“The figures released by The Detail confirm the complaints made by the North West over several years,” said Mr. Kindlon.

The Detail’s investigation has Derry in 12th place in a list of 26 former council areas to receive funding from Invest NI over the three year period.

The figures show that from 2011 to 2014 Invest NI gave Belfast (£128,159,245) more than 11 times the funding given to Derry (£11,503,245). Statistically, Derry, has the highest level of unemployment in North.

In terms of per capita funding, Belfast received £452.59 per head of population whilst Derry received £105.39.

Using per capita as a marker, Derry is behind Belfast; Newtownabbey; Antrim; Craigavon; Cookstown; Dungannon and South Tyrone; Magherafelt; Ballymena; Larne; Newry and Mourne and Lisburn.

“The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce is very keen that more investment comes to Derry/Londonderry,” said Mr. Kindlon.

“While we support the economic development of Belfast and its suburbs, this must not be at the expense of Northern Ireland as a whole.

“We would like Invest NI to bring more potential investors to the North West and we believe there are strong grounds for greater levels of financial and skills development support to be made available to areas of high unemployment.”

Mr. Kindlon said it was up to MLAs at Stormont to direct Invest NI to target areas in the North, with high levels of unemployment, such as Derry,

“Having said that, we recognise that, unfortunately, Invest NI does not have a remit to favour areas of highest unemployment.

“Only the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly can direct it to do that. “We urge our politicians to step up to the mark to address the sub-regional disparities in Northern Ireland and to ensure there is an increase in employment in all places. This requires more than action by Invest NI. It also requires greater investment in skills and training in the North West and urgent investment into our road network, in particular our connections with Belfast and Dublin,” he said.