Stark reality of Derry joblessness

Foyle MP Mark Durkan.
Foyle MP Mark Durkan.

Derry has one of the worst unemployment rates in Britain and Northern Ireland, new research has revealed.

A report released by the House of Commons showed West Belfast and Foyle among the areas with the worst unemployment levels across the UK.

In the Foyle constituency, 6,002 people are on the dole - that’s more than 9% more than were claiming the benefit last September.

The research published by the Commons library ranked 650 areas on the number claiming unemployment benefit, the changes in those statistics and the numbers who have been job hunting for more than a year.

Figures from West Belfast show 105 fewer people were on the dole in September 2011 compared to the previous year.

However, from September to September, 225 more people have claimed unemployment benefit in the Foyle constituency.

By contrast, the rate of unemployment in Northern Ireland - the figure reached by the government through sample surveys - remained unchanged over the quarter at 7.3%.

The figure is well below the equivalent rates for the UK at 8.3%, the European Union at 9.5% and the Republic of Ireland at 14.6%.

Foyle MP Mark Durkan says the monthly House of Commons statistics underlines the need for a coherent Programme for Government with credible priorities for the North.

He said: “This monthly digest of statistics from the House of Commons again confirm that constituencies like Foyle have a high concentration of unemployment, high levels of long-term unemployment and a growing rate of youth joblessness.

“It should also be noted that these statistics are based on the economically active population and the story is even starker with levels of economic inactivity (with people’s long term conditions such as incapacity and disability).

“This picture shows that the problem in Derry is a lack of work, not a lack of work ethic as alleged by the British Government and others supporting the Welfare Reform Bill and that kind of agenda.

“It also shows the importance of doing everything we can to sustain existing jobs and support firms giving employment in the private sector in challenging market conditions and protecting and better distributing jobs and services in the public sector.”