Fermanagh South Tyrone Sinn Féin Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

DETI Strategy to Tackle Regional Imbalance Required - Flanagan

Published: 8 October, 2014

Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has said that the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment needs to establish a strategy to address the continuing regional disparity in job creation as a top priority.

Mr Flanagan was speaking after the Assembly's Employment & Learning Committee considered a DEL report on Labour Mobility.

The Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA said:

"This report confirms what Sinn Féin has been saying for a considerable period of time. 60% of respondents felt there weren't enough jobs being created in their area and projections by Oxford Economics clearly showing by 2024, there will be even fewer jobs in rural areas.

"Without a radical change in policy aimed at targeting economic growth the future remains bleak for rural and border areas.

"The failure of Invest NI to adequately support job creation in rural areas is a long standing issue. According to figures provided to me by DETI, despite only having 15.5% of the population, Belfast attracted almost 75% of the total 4,760 FDI jobs promoted in 2013/2014.

"To date, Invest NI has been overly focussed on attracting jobs in the financial, business and computer services sector, which are more inclined towards locating in large urban areas like Belfast to the exclusion of those industries more suited to rural locations.

"The underinvestment and lack of support for the local manufacturing sector - unless aimed specifically at the export market - needs to be redressed. Small manufacturers are struggling and being forced out of business because of inadequate support facilities yet multi-national companies are able to avail of very generous subsidies.

"A robust regional job creation strategy aimed at encouraging local entrepreneurship which is less likely to move elsewhere seeking low wage conditions needs to be prioritised.

"Appropriate action must also be taken to reduce energy costs for manufacturing companies, which adds significantly to cost of production, discourages business expansion, potential investment and even causes companies to move their operations elsewhere.

"I am reiterating my call on the DETI Minister to work with her Executive colleagues and her Dublin counterpart to produce a focused job creation strategy with particular emphasis on the economic development of the border corridor and rural areas."

Notes to Editors:

A full copy of the report can be accessed at http://www.delni.gov.uk/labour-mobility-del-final-report-09092014.pdf