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Thu 7th March
Cllr Kelly was speaking after further delays from the DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill,
He said: “The Minister took this decision months ago to relocate DARD to Ballykelly without a business case, which makes very little sense in the first place. But she stated in the Assembly in January, that her decision was based on a number of factors, including socio-economic factors, deprivation and unemployment levels. We are now in March and there is still no business case coming forward from the Department. There are high levels of deprivation and unemployment in Strabane as a result of decades of underinvestment. Given that and the number of sites ripe for development in the town, a strong business case must surely exist for Strabane’s inclusions for the decentralisation of DARD.
“I raised this matter with the Minister in person very recently, but have been highly dissatisfied with any response received from her department. The time has come for direct answers from the Minister in regards to her decision to relocate the jobs. Her reasons don’t add up and Strabane is the best place for these new jobs. The Minister need to quit dragging her heels on this issue, the people of Strabane deserve answers.”
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