‘Invest NI must look outside Belfast’ – Fearon

Posted by
Tuesday, July 7th, 2015
Community, Politics
Newry and Armagh MLA Megan Fearon has criticised Invest NI for neglecting council areas outside of Belfast. Invest Northern IrelandThe Sinn Fein MLA said the economic development body had a duty to seek investment and jobs for all areas of the north. “Recently released figures show that last year Invest NI promoted some 964 jobs in Newry, Mourne and Down and secured are £106m in investments,” she said. “While this is of course to be welcomed, in the same period they secured more than four times the investment for Belfast City Council and promoted more than five times the jobs. “Belfast City Council serves a population around twice the size of Newry, Mourne and Down so this clearly shows where Invest NI feel their priorities should be,” she insisted. “Newry, Mourne and Down has enormous potential to be a real economic powerhouse in Ireland if it could receive the right investment. It has an educated, capable workforce, one of the north’s four cities and is excellently positioned between Dublin and Belfast on the Eastern Economic Corridor. “Add to that the historic under-investment across the district and it’s quite clear that Belfast should not be receiving more than four and five times the investment it is. “The failure of Invest NI and the former Minister Arlene Foster to tackle the growing issue of regional imbalance is causing serious societal problems and this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgent priority by the new DETI Minister, Jonathan Bell. “The Executive set tackling regional imbalance as a priority in the last programme for government. While some ministers have made progress by decentralising public sector jobs to rural areas, others have failed to even consider addressing this issue. “Whilst the overall performance of Invest NI is to be commended and the success of attracting investment to Belfast is very positive, this cannot be done at the expense of other areas. Fearon added, “The Executive must bring forward sub-regional targets for Invest NI as a key component of the next Programme for Government.”
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