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Gerry Adams slates Invest NI's record in West Belfast

14 December, 2006

Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Gerry Adams has described the record of Invest NI in ensuring investment in West Belfast as 'appalling and shameful'.

The West Belfast MP will be meeting the Minister Maria Eagle early in the New year and Invest NI's performance, especially in respect of west Belfast will be a priority issue for discussion. The Sinn Féin MP said: "What is missing is a coherent and top level agenda by Invest NI to overturn decades of neglect and discrimination."

Mr. Adams said:

"Invest NI has spent more than £10m on acquiring the former Mackies site. However, like most of the other land owned by Invest NI in this constituency little has been done to create jobs.

The figures speak for themselves:

· In the year 2005/06, Invest NI brought only one first-time inward investment project to west Belfast

· Planned investment by Invest NI in west Belfast is £70m out of a possible £1,537.5m

· This represents 4.6 % of the total invested in that year by Invest NI

· And this compares to £208.6m invested in south Belfast

"These are appalling statistics. They are indictment of Invest NI's approach to investment in west Belfast, to areas of high social deprivation and unemployment. And there are many who will jump to the understandable conclusion that a sectarian bias is at work.

"The Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan has identified several Major Employment Locations (MELs). I have written to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment requesting that she provide information from Invest NI outlining its planned strategic use of land in west Belfast, in particular what actions, especially planned use and investment programmes, it has undertaken to promote efficient use of this land.

"In a meeting with Sinn Fein in recent weeks, Invest NI officials suggested that the concept of an Enterprise Zone was outmoded. However, the development of an Enterprise Zone to stimulate investment and sustain existing employment in west Belfast is at the heart of the Economic Task Force for this constituency four years ago. The contradiction between those two stances is one Invest NI will have to reconcile and Sinn Féin will be questioning them closely on that.

"There are also outstanding questions about the role being played by Invest NI in relation to sustaining inward investment projects such as Visteon and InBev and maintaining local employment in plants such as Deltaprint.

"However, what is missing is evidence of a coherent and top level agenda by Invest NI to overturn decades of neglect and discrimination. Within the constituency, there is now a new Enterprise Council, with an experienced membership, eager to promote this constituency. There is also a dynamic group, lead by Irish language activists, promoting the development of the Gaeltacht Quarter as a economic strategy for regenerating west Belfast on a par with other Quarters in this city. The creativity and commitment is here. I am writing to Invest NI's Chairperson Stephen Kingon to ask whether there is any future in Invest NI for communities like West Belfast." ENDS

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