Claims Invest NI helped create nearly 1,600 fewer jobs in north-west compared to Belfast

SDLP councillor Rory Farrell claimed the north-west was being negatively impacted. Credit: PA

By Gillian Anderson, Local Democrary Reporter

Invest Northern Ireland has only supported the creation of 67 jobs in the Derry and Strabane area in the past financial year compared to 1,657 in the Belfast City Council area, it has been claimed.

Derry SDLP councillor Rory Farrell cited the statistics at the monthly meeting of the Business and Culture Committee and he along with several other members were vocal in their criticism of Invest NI with the poor job creation figures described as 'beyond ridiculous'.

Councillor Rory Farrell had previously requested that Invest NI bring a delegation to discuss the creation of jobs and businesses across the city and district.

He said: "I understand a meeting hasn't been scheduled as yet but I've been doing a bit of digging and this isn't something Invest NI publish or they don't issue a press release about it.

"In the last financial year across Derry and Strabane Invest NI supported the creation of 67 jobs.

"If we look at Belfast City Council they supported the creation of 1,657 jobs. So for every job they supported in Derry and Strabane they supported 25 in Belfast.

"If we look at the 11 councils across the North, Derry and Strabane is the third lowest, Mid and East Antrim and Ards and North Down are the only two councils that have lower job creation figures than this council area.

"If we look at the 3,000 jobs that were created across the North last year 2% were in our council area and 98% were elsewhere.

"It's getting beyond ridiculous at this stage and we need Invest NI to come to this committee to tell us what they are going to do to support job creation, to support local businesses and to pump investment into this city and district because what they are doing now isn't working."

UUP Alderman Derek Hussey was also critical of invest NI : "One of the things Invest NI ignores is the skill pool that is relevant to our area and exists in Donegal.

"There are skills there that would enable firms to come to Derry City and Strabane and set up and thereby increase the job opportunities for people in our own area. I think Invest NI ignores the geographic realities of the area we live in."

Calling for the DUP to 'get back to work', for a return of the Executive and a changes within the Department of Economy was Sinn Féin councillor Conor Heaney.

"The figures councillor Farrell has quoted are yet another example of the systemic failure," he said.

"There is a policy focus that is totally geared in one direction only, an unwritten Belfast first policy and here we see it yet again," he claimed.

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