McLaughlin: New Economy Minister’s vision falls short

economy Sinéad McLaughlin Regional balance

SDLP Economy Spokesperson Sinéad McLaughlin MLA has said Minister Conor Murphy’s vision falls far short of what is required to transform communities across the North.

Ms McLaughlin noted she was particularly disappointed by the Economy Minister’s failure to support her proposal for legislation to introduce binding targets that could address regional economic balance.

Minister Murphy was also questioned by Leader of the Opposition Matthew O’Toole on any steps that he would take to stop the British government from abolishing its legal duties to the all-island economy.

The Foyle MLA said:

“Today was an opportunity for the Minister to set out his stall and give the Assembly confidence in his stewardship of our economy. While I welcome a focus on regional economic balance, productivity and on the development of the all-island economy, today’s statement falls well short of what is required. Indeed, the Minister seemed unable to outline one step that he would take to counter the divisive and misguided plan from the Tories to abolish its legal duties to an all-island economy.

“This was also a chance for the Minister to outline detailed plans to improve regional balance, in particular through the development of the North West city region, including the practical measures he will take to expand university places at Magee and reform Invest Northern Ireland for good. Unfortunately, while we heard many warm words from the Minister today, there was little talk of the action needed to secure these vital changes.

“Commitments have been made in previous visions, strategies and plans laid before the Assembly and those commitments remain undelivered. I was disappointed by the Minister’s refusal to support my proposal for legislation that would place binding obligations across government for regional economic balance. The proof of today’s economic vision will be in the transformation of life outcomes for people, not just where they are already doing well, but in those most deprived areas that require intervention. Based on this statement today, I fear we are still relying on the same failed approach as before, with little accountability."

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