SDLP Jobs and Economy Spokesperson Sinéad McLaughlin MLA and South Belfast MP Claire Hanna have met with the Interim Chief Executive of Invest NI following the release of the independent review of the organisation.
It follows the news that the Invest NI Chair appointment process will soon begin with the tenure of Rose Mary Stalker coming to an end this month.
Following the meeting, Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin said:
“I was pleased to meet with the Interim Chief Executive of Invest NI Mel Chittock to make clear that the damning findings of the independent review must be acted upon without delay. In particular, I pressed him and the team on the need to do much better for areas like the North-West, including through sub-regional targets. I took the opportunity to reiterate my strong view that such targets are necessary to rebalance our economy and bring the jobs and investment that is so badly needed to those communities that have been left behind.
“The many failings of the organisation over several years have seriously damaged confidence in Invest NI in the North-West and the recent findings of the independent review confirmed what many of us had been calling out for years, that Invest NI had become much too Belfast-centric and was making virtually no difference to the living standards of the people that I represent. Worse still, the abject failures of the organisation were being allowed to unfold in plain sight under the purview of successive DUP Ministers with deeply damaging consequences.
“However, as damning as the review’s conclusions were for the leadership of Invest NI, the release of this report represents an opportunity for our economy as we can now finally start to build an organisation that is fit for purpose and delivers for all of our communities across the North. We need to see transparency and accountability on the action plan that is to be put in place by the Department for the Economy and Invest NI, and the implementation of the many recommendations that will be key to rebuilding public trust in this organisation.”
Claire Hanna MP said:
“It is clear that Invest NI needs substantial and profound change. This meeting was an opportunity to press the organisation on the pace of that change and I was pleased that the Chief Executive was able to discuss a number of the important issues in detail, including how the organisation will begin to implement the recommendations of the independent review.
“This moment of reform for Invest NI offers so much opportunity for our economy as the organisation’s activity is core to the many pressing economic issues that demand our attention. From the move to net-zero, to cross-border collaboration and the need for good and well-paid jobs, Northern Ireland desperately needs an economic development agency that is fit for purpose. The review represents a vital step in rebuilding this organisation so we can begin to address these challenges.”