Derry needs less excuses and more delivery on job creation
Martin McGuinness made several statements in the past week regarding Derry's economic problems.
He has mentioned that he is 'increasingly concerned' with unemployment in the city.
He has also stated that he feels 'exorbitant rents' are impacting on Derry's attractiveness to investors and said that Derry people benefit from job creation in Belfast.
While the deputy First Minister is entitled to his opinions, I feel he doesn't quite grasp the seriousness of the unemployment situation in the city and his role in combating it.
Unemployment is Derry's number one issue. This has been the case for decades and unless the Executive delivers on its promise to Derry it will be our key problem for decades to come.
A quick glance at the Invest NI website shows the depth of our problem. Invest NI issues press releases for every job announcement it is involved in. Since April there have been more than 5,000 jobs promoted in Belfast but less than 50 in Derry.
While a lot more can be done by Invest NI to sell Derry to investors, I am of the firm belief that we will never reach our full potential unless we tackle our infrastructure and skills deficit. The SDLP consistently argues for investment in our roads, rail and university.
Mr McGuinness has joint responsibility with Peter Robinson to deliver the One Plan. This document contains all the key drivers to reverse Derry's economic problems. Investment in roads, rail and the expansion of Magee are key elements of the One Plan – so far there has been no tangible commitment from the Executive to these projects.
Mr McGuinness and Mr Robinson also control the Executive's purse strings. As such they have a £10b budget at their disposal. It is time we heard less excuses and saw more delivery.
It is worth remembering that Mr McGuinness and Mr Robinson told us that Derry and Belfast are the key economic drivers in the North, they also told us to judge them on delivery.
5000 jobs to Belfast since April versus 50 to Derry can hardly be classed or described as balanced economic delivery.