THE SDLP’S Economy spokesperson Sinéad McLaughlin has expressed disappointment over the continued high levels of unemployment in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area, which remains the district with the highest unemployment rate in the North of Ireland.
Unemployment in Derry and Strabane in January was 6.6%, and 8.8% for men.
The lowest unemployment rate is 3.4% in the Lisburn and Castlereagh area.
In a speech to the NI Assembly, proposing that the Executive agrees a Recovery and Investment Strategy, McLaughlin criticised the lack of focus on the urban areas in the greatest need and the highest unemployment.
Said the Foyle MLA: “If you look at the maps of deprivation and of joblessness across the North you will see clearly where the biggest problems of regional imbalance are.
“They are in Derry, in Strabane, in West Belfast and in North Belfast.
“The apparent failure of the ministers for the economy and of finance to recognise this reality shows the lack of perspective behind the decision-making process when considering how to ‘build back better’.”
She urged the Executive to exploit the opportunities presented by the Protocol to open access to both the UK Internal Market and the EU Single Market and the potential for this to create substantial numbers of jobs.
Ms McLaughlin pointed to advice published by Invest NI, which has told potential investors, “This dual market access position means that Northern Ireland can become a gateway for the sale of goods to two of the world’s largest markets and the only place where businesses can operate free from customs declarations, rules of origin certificates and non-tariff barriers on the sale of goods to both GB and the EU.
“This is a unique proposition for manufacturers based in Northern Ireland as well as those seeking a pivotal location from which to service GB and EU markets, recalibrate supply chains, or design, develop and sell products across key industries such as life and health sciences, aerospace, electronics & machinery, chemicals, consumer and agri-food goods.”
Ms McLaughlin added: “While I have repeatedly criticised Invest NI for not sufficiently promoting Derry and the North West, in this instance I congratulate Invest NI.
“It is now for the Minister for Economy to similarly recognise the benefits of the Protocol and use it to help create more jobs.”