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Source: Social Democratic and Labour Party of Northern Ireland

“Invest NI must do far more to lose its informal tag of ‘Invest Belfast’,” says SDLP MLA for Foyle Sinead McLaughlin.

She was speaking after details were published of locations visited by potential inward investors to Northern Ireland hosted by Invest NI. In the 2018/19 year, there were 278 visits (87%) to Belfast, compared to just six (2%) in the Foyle constituency and a mere two (less than 1%) in East Derry.

“These figures demonstrate to a scandalous extent the Invest NI focus on Belfast, at the expense of the rest of Northern Ireland,” said Ms McLaughlin. “This is quite simply unacceptable.

“If anyone has difficulty in understanding why there is such pressure on Invest NI to change the way it operates, then they should just look at these figures. It it is the same situation year after year – this was not a one-off.

“But we cannot let the Department for the Economy and the Northern Ireland Executive as a whole off the hook. Invest NI were allowed for years to concentrate investment in and around Belfast. We are all for Belfast doing well, but not at the expense of the rest of Northern Ireland. Investment and prosperity has to be spread.

“The SDLP is clear that we must have an effective strategy in place to correct past failures that have caused inequality and deprivation. Invest NI must have targets to promote the areas of Northern Ireland, including in particular Derry, that have the highest levels of unemployment, economic inactivity and low pay.”

MIL OSI United Kingdom