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Doherty challenging Invest NI on Strabane Investment

18 April, 2006

West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty is seeking answers from Invest NI as to the level and detail of grant aid funding to economic projects in Strabane District since the inception of the body charged with assisting economic development in the six counties, and for a comparative breakdown of investment by the body in other Council areas and Constituencies.

Mr Doherty said,

"The recent revelation that economic projects in the relatively prosperous Constituency of South Belfast received more grant aid funding from Invest NI than all of the constituencies west of the Bann put together serves to strengthen the perception that the body is merely reinforcing the East of the Bann/West of the Bann economic divide instead of attempting to redress this unjust historical imbalance by targeting resources on the basis of need.

"I believe that the response by Invest NI to the information I have requested will further highlight the major disparity between where Invest NI resources are badly needed, particularly in areas like Strabane, and where these resources are being actually allocated.

"Therefore, in my letters to Invest NI Chief Executive Leslie Morrison and INI Chairperson Stephen Kingon, I have also sought details, if there any, of Invest NI's current and future plans to eschew grant aid and practical assistance to projects within Targeting Social Need priority areas like Strabane District in line with overarching government equality imperatives.

"I believe that it is essential to challenge government and its agencies such as Invest NI to live up to their equality obligations and begin to allocate resources and investment to areas like Strabane, where they are most acutely needed.  ENDS

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