Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs has warned the Stormont Executive not to again become complacent about job creation in East Antrim in the wake of the FG Wilson redundancy announcement. He was commenting after receiving answered to questions he has posed in the Assembly on industrial land availability and visits from potential inward investors.
During question time at Stormont, Mr Beggs asked the Enterprize minister Arlene Foster, “Will she accept that, if additional industrial development sites were developed, there would be an increased likelihood of some of the new jobs that are expected to come into Northern Ireland within the next number of months locating in Larne and that fresh opportunities would be developed for the subcontractors and the existing service sector that have suffered?”
In response the Minister said “East Antrim is quite well catered for in industrial land when you look at the figures for it in comparison with other parts of Northern Ireland. The key issue is skills, and we have an abundance of those in east Antrim.”
Speaking later Roy Beggs commented:
“The Minister’s comments when coupled with other information I have uncovered through other Assembly questions are, I believe, dangerously complacent. Invest NI hold a total of 427 acres of land in East Antrim, of which 121 is available to be developed for new industrial development. However only 4.7 acres are available in Larne, and 19 in Carrickfergus. In addition, I have been advised that over the last three financial years, Invest NI have not arranged any visits for potential inward investors in the Carrickfergus Borough, and there were no visits to Larne last year either. In contrast 213 visits to sites in Belfast were arranged over the last 3 years.
These are hugely disappointing figures. It seems that Minister Foster, whilst acknowledging the ‘abundance’ of skills in East Antrim, expects those skilled workers to seek their employment outside the area.”
ENDS Note to editor
Link to Industrial land and Invest NI Visits Q&As