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Unemployment figures highlight urgent need for special economic zone status - McLaughlin

19 January, 2011

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) has stated that the unemployment figures published today highlight the need for urgent action to be taken in delivering the special enterprise zone status promised by David Cameron.

Speaking today Mr. McLaughlin said:
“The unemployment figures published today highlight the need for bringing forward the creation of a Special Enterprise zone here as promised by David Cameron. The news that while the unemployment rate has risen by 7.7% here over the past year it has fallen by 9.0% in Britain emphasises the need for urgent action.

“As unemployment continues to rise in the north while decreasing in Britain it is clear that the Tory/Lib.Dem policy of cuts have hit the local economy here more severely than anywhere else with £4bn taken out of our economy through reduction in the Block Grant allocation.

“David Cameron promised to deliver proposals on rebalancing our economy in October of last year, it was then put back to November and now, in January 2011 it still hasn’t materialised.

“It is abundantly clear that the British government focus is on rebalancing Britain’s economy with the North of Ireland being only peripheral to the thinking of the British Treasury.

“Not only has the British Chancellor reduced our block grant by £4bn, but also took a further £300m end of year flexibility funds out of our budget. While these Tory cuts will impact negatively on any chance of economic rebalancing or future growth David Cameron dithers on producing the proposals that he promised.

“It’s obvious that the economy here requires focused attention or unemployment levels will continue to rise. Sinn Féin has taken the lead in demanding fiscal autonomy so that we can better plan our own recovery based on an island of Ireland economy. These latest figures show that without the ability to vary tax and identify alternative streams of revenue that British government economic policy will not provide the impetus required to kick-start our recovery. In the meantime all parties should unite in demanding that David Cameron bring forward his proposals for rebalancing our economy now – without further delay so that we can judge just how seriously the British government takes the needs of this part of Ireland.”

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