Invest NI have replied to a statement from Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty that claimed the organisation is too 'Belfast centred'. Invest NI said that 75% of the businesses supported in the past five years were outside Belfast.

Mr McNulty in his statement questioned if the organisation in its present form is genuinely fit for purpose. "Invent NI is too Belfast Centred, it is investing millions in a small number of constituencies and is ignoring any area beyond the greater Belfast region.  It makes me question if the organisation is fit for purpose. Does Invest NI know that areas outside Belfast exist and is the Executive aware of what is really going on in its own Business Development Agency." said the MLA

Monaghan Street, Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
Monaghan Street, Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

Mr McNulty added "I have sought information from the Economy Minister Diane Dodds and I was stunned but at the same time not surprised as so many businesses I know have been drawing blanks when they have sought support from Invest NI.  In the 2017/2018 year Invest NI ploughed £13,200,000 into South Belfast and yet only £100,000 in Newry and Armagh.  It hosted 158 Foreign Direct Investment Visits in South Belfast compared to just 1 in Newry and Armagh."

Justin McNulty, MLA.

In their reply an Invest NI Spokesperson said “There is no bias to any region and no directing of investment to any one area. We are actively working with all 11 councils to support economic growth across Northern Ireland. In the Newry, Mourne & Down area this work has resulted in over 1,700 new jobs and over £200m of investment in the area in the last five years.”

The spokesperson added “We also do not ‘plough’ money into selected areas. Our support is demand driven – i.e. it depends on businesses approaching us for support. In the last five years 75 per cent of the businesses we supported have been located outside Belfast."

Stating Invest NI figures the Newry and Armagh MLA said "In 2018/2019 it hosted 181 Foreign Direct Investment visits to South Belfast and an investment of £15,000,000 compared to only 1 FDI Visit to Newry and Armagh and £60,000 of support.  In 2019/2020 it hosted 120 FDI visits to South Belfast, just 2 in Newry and Armagh and for every job it created in West Belfast it provided £13,000 of support compared to only £269 per job in Newry and Armagh."

Mr McNulty concluded "Invest NI and the Executive have an abysmal record in attracting job and investment anywhere beyond the outer-ring of South and East Belfast. We deserve better and we deserve equality.  I cannot understand why this Executive can stand over such an appalling record.  Invest NI is too Belfast centred, it is failing border communities and is failing rural communities.  We need to see a fundamental reform of Invest NI and the Executive’s Investment Strategy.  We are all rate payers and we are all tax payers. We deserve and demand equal treatment and it must be delivered."

Invest NI in their reply added “Where inward investors choose to locate is the decision of the company and based on their needs – such as Glantus, a new investor announced just last month which is creating 15 new jobs in Newry."





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