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INI Report again highlights failure to support balanced economic development

1 December, 2005

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA has said that the annual report of Invest NI gain highlights the failure of the organisation to support balanced economic development.

Mr McLaughlin said:

"The Invest NI Annual Report for 2004/05 does not have detail in it to allow a full analysis of the situation, for example, there is no breakdown of investment by parliamentary constituency or by district council area. It was this analysis of last year's figures that showed very serious discrepancies in how Invest NI supported economic development in specific areas.

"We understand that a detailed Performance Report will be published in March which we will be scrutinising closely.

"However, it is clear that INI is failing to locate sufficient industry west of the Bann and in border counties. These are the areas that are most disadvantaged and suffer from the highest levels of unemployment and economic inactivity rates. Within Belfast resources are skewed away from deprived areas such as North and West Belfast into relatively affluent areas of South and East Belfast.

"The Labour Market Dynamics Report, published this week by OFMDFM, clearly shows that Catholics continue to have "persistently" higher levels of unemployment and economic inactivity, remain more than twice as likely to be unemployed and are more likely to be amongst the long-term unemployed.

"A job creation agency such as INI needs to recognise that it has a responsibility in tackling these differentials. Instead it continues to replicate patterns of disadvantage and discrimination by skewing economic resources toward already affluent areas of Belfast and the east in contravention of New Targeting Social Need policy requirements. This is unacceptable.

"It is not enough to say that the Belfast Travel to Work Area goes right across the six counties and that therefore the whole of the north receives the benefits of employment being diverted to the east. This is clearly not the case as the indices of multiple deprivation prove for places like Fermanagh, Tyrone and Derry. It is time that agencies like INI, who are after all in receipt of public funds, starting taking their statutory equality duty seriously." ENDS

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