Sinn Féin Economy spokesperson and Chair of the Assembly Finance Committee, Daithí McKay has said that the Statistics produced this morning showing an increase in unemployment figures and a significant decrease in construction output cannot be disconnected.
Daithí McKay said:
“It is no coincidence that figures published today by the Statistics and Research Agency show an increase in unemployment figures and a decrease in construction output in the last quarter.
“These statistics should add urgency to regional Development Minister, Danny Kennedy’s commitment to overcome the delays caused by objectors to the A5 project. This project has the potential to reinvigorate the construction industry and reduce numbers of unemployed.
“It is imperative that we work collectively to progress projects such as infrastructure and house building. The decrease in construction output was not of course confined to infrastructure. There was a 10.3% quarter on quarter volume decrease in Housing Output most of which is down to a further decline in New Private Housing Output – down by over 20% over the past five years. This has undoubtedly contributed to the growing housing waiting lists being experienced in every area of the North. This situation presents a major challenge to DSD Minister Nelson McCausland to ensure an increase in the availability of social housing.
“The importance of a strong construction sector in rebuilding our economy cannot be underestimated. Not only does it provide much needed jobs directly on the projects but the multiplier effect that it has on ancillary goods and services contributes to strengthening the local economy. It is therefore incumbent that the Ministers for Roads, Housing and Planning take a cross Departmental approach to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays in proposed construction projects.
“If we are to build our economy, provide work and encourage our graduates to stay and work in their local areas we need Ministers to take a strong stance to ensure that any obstacles to progressing projects with the job creation potential of the A5 and others awaiting planning approval are overcome as quickly as possible.
“Although the A5 dual carriageway scheme will serve to address the regional disparity in infrastructural development in the North West it will also impact positively on the economy generally".