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Urgent need for Government departments to increase employment opportunities - Maskey

16 November, 2011 - by Pat Sheehan, Westminster

Sinn Féin MP for West Belfast, Paul Maskey, has stated that the all government departments but especially DETI and DEL must increase their efforts in bringing employment opportunities to areas like West Belfast, North Belfast and Foyle.

This follows the publishing of statistics which indicate Foyle and West Belfast as amongst the top five in unemployment levels in the north of Ireland and Britain.

Speaking today Mr Maskey said:

“This is an on-going issue and one that has still to be addressed satisfactorily by those departments charged with investment and employment. The simple fact is that they are not doing enough to target these areas for employment schemes and direct inward investment.

“Comments from the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster that the employment figures in the North of Ireland are some of the best simply ring hollow when you come to West Belfast.

“Not one single job was created last year through direct foreign investment in West Belfast by Invest NI. This happened under the watch of the Minister and, serious questions need to be answered.

“I have met on numerous occasions with Invest NI on this issue and while there are indications of a will to tackle this issue we now need to see action.

“Beyond this the Department of Employment and Learning are cutting the funding to the Employment Services Board, a springboard to training and employment. At a time when unemployment is rising, this is beyond comprehension in the communities that I represent.

“There is a will to invest and this week I will be meeting with a company with just such an intention. However the relevant support must be forthcoming if we are to seriously address the decades of underinvestment in an area such as West Belfast.

“This must be a priority for both the Department of Enterprise Trade and investment and the Department of Employment and Learning.”

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