Derry poor job figures are a ‘wake up call’

Photo Colm Lenaghan / Pacemaker Press
Photo Colm Lenaghan / Pacemaker Press

Politicians in London, Dublin and Belfast have been blamed for the north west’s ongoing economic woes.

Yesterday, new figures revealed that across Derry, Limavady and Strabane a total of 9,686 people were claiming unemployment related benefits in February 2013.

Derry remains the north’s dole capital with 8.6% of people of working age claiming unemployment related benefits.

Sinn Fein’s Raymond McCartney said the “failed austerity policies by both the British and Irish governments is having a devastating impact on communities here.”

“What we need to see is a move away from the failed policies of austerity and a move towards economic recovery that is based on job creation, reducing levels of poverty and on protecting our public services.

“We need to see the transfer of Fiscal powers to allow politicians here to do more to affect the fortunes of the local economy, instead of fiscal decisions being made at Westminster with a Tory driven austerity mindset,” he said.

But SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey said the figures should “serve as a wakeup call to Executive Ministers that their attempts to revive the economy are not working.

“I have long called for the Department of Employment and Learning in particular to get serious about the impact joblessness is having on the next generation, and for too long they have offered piecemeal platitudes and PR stunts,” he said.

“All our economic departments must realise that until we can tackle unemployment head on by creating sustainable jobs and attracting long term investment, we are condemning those we serve to a bleak future, and the SDLP has not and will not stand silent and allow the responsible Ministers and their departments to continue to fail while the economy flounders. “

Trade Unionist Liam Gallagher of the Irish Executive of Unite also pointed the finger at Stormont.

He said the latest unemployment figures “clearly show that the Assembly’s Programme For Government is not working particularly for the unemployed.”

“There were 25000 people who emigrated from N.Ireland in 2012 and the situation in the North West is relatively worse with over 2500 young people leaving since 2011.

“The live register figures will get progressively worse as people are forced off incapacity benefit. The popular notion that a reduction in Corporation Tax will grow the private sector and reduce our dependency on Public Spending is proving to be white elephant and while we wait what is left of our economy is slowly being strangling by Austerity measures.

“Even if we reduced Corporation Tax to 12.5 % in the morning it would take five to eight years before any benefit if any would be felt and the net loss to the economy would be millions in lost subvention.

“We need urgent action to bring forward Capital spend programmes and the implementation of meaningful remedial measures to help the unemployed and to generate spending.”

In Strabane the unemployment rate stands at 7.6% while in Limavady 7.3% of people are claiming the dole.

The unemployment rate in Derry is more than double that of Antrim, Castlereagh and North Down.

Across the north more than 66,000 people are currently claiming unemployment related benefits.