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Sinn Fein challenges Invest NI on jobs for West Belfast

13 September, 2006

Sinn Féin has challenged Invest NI over its lack of a strategy for job creation and redressing unemployment in west Belfast. The challenge was made after a Sinn Fein delegation, including Cllrs Paul Maskey and Michael Browne met with Invest NI.

Cllr Maskey, who leads the Sinn Fein group in Belfast City Council said that the meeting was informative and revealing:

"Invest NI appear to accept that enough is not being done to alleviate long-term unemployment in west Belfast. However, as we have seen over many years now, they do not have any plan or strategy for rectifying this problem. Invest NI must address not only the patterns of job allocation, but investment location."

Cllr Browne, who chairs the Belfast City Council committee on Economic Development said that recent months have seen more jobs lost in west Belfast:

"We had Trivirax close earlier this year, and Invest NI failed in that situation. We saw Daily Ireland close last week, and Invest NI had a part in that scandal also. The part which Invest NI is playing in relation to retention of jobs at Visteon and the InBev will be seen in due course. There are other employers who have remained in west Belfast and created jobs, such as Delta Print and Packaging, and they appear to be succeeding despite difficulties still to be resolved with Invest NI. Overall the evidence of recent years shows that where the old IDB left off, Invest NI have carried on, and that is a dereliction of duty to the people of this constituency"

Cllr Maskey said that Sinn Féin would be pursuing a new economic vision for west Belfast:

"The West Belfast Task Force is mainstream policy. It requires to be implemented. Invest NI is supposed to exist to deliver and implement policy. That means over the next period, we need to see a jobs strategy for skewing investment and supporting local employment. The people of west Belfast, including the Shankill, have a right to jobs and fair wages. Invest NI must show that in outcomes and results. Sinn Fein MP Gerry Adams will be taking this cause up with the relevant British Minister later in the autumn." ENDS

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