‘More needs to be done by Executive for Mid-Ulster investment’

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DEPUTY First Minister Martin McGuinness has been criticised for the lack of investment in the Mid-Ulster area, compared to other constituencies.

SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone said investment in the Mid-Ulster MPs constituency is considerably less than that of First Minister Peter Robinson’s East Belfast constituency.

Over the last five years, £750m of investment was planned for the East Belfast area, with £58.81m of Invest NI assistance and an expectation of 2,914 new jobs.

During the same period planned investment for Mid-Ulster stood at £165 million, with £17.71m INI assistance, with a total of 1690 jobs expected. Mr McGlone said more needs to be done by the Executive to ensure that all constituencies get their fair share of investment.

Mr McGlone, who is the Chair of the Assembly’s Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee, made the comments following an Assembly debate on a regional investment strategy.

“Peter Robinson’s East Belfast constituency which, though labouring under years of under-investment, is still a comparatively small urban constituency yet, over the last five years, £750m of investment was planned, with £58.81m of Invest NI assistance and an expectation of 2,914 new jobs.

“Compare this with the deputy First Minister’s constituency of Mid-Ulster – which is also mine – where over the same period, total planned investment was £165 million (22% of the East Belfast investment), with £17.71m INI assistance (30% of East Belfast) and 1690 jobs expected.

“Investment for the future is something that all constituencies should be able to expect – whereby the Executive plays to each area’s strengths to create a cohesive economy which can grow and strengthen itself for the good of the whole region.

The Assemblyman said that the “key” to boosting investment in the area is the stimulation of the construction sector and the right to vary corporation tax to be competitive with other areas.

He added: “It is imperative that any strategy emerging from the Executive clearly demonstrates that it is the merit of each area, not how politically heavyweight its public representatives are, which determines suitable investment.”