SDLP Social Development Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has argued that investment in the construction industry must become a priority for the Executive.
He was speaking following an SDLP motion which was debated in the Assembly on Monday 12 November:
Every day we open the papers, turn on the news there is some other business in bother. The construction industry has been a vital part of the private sector employment in the North of Ireland but now we see Pattons and other firms in real difficulties. The industry’s problems have been compounded by a lack of work.
There are virtually no private sector projects or public capital works on the go , no new schools, no hospital extensions that are required.
Five years ago the construction industry was worth 3 billion. It is now worth 1 billion, and 25,000 jobs have been lost , this degradation to one of our key industries cannot continue.
We also cannot forget the lives of subcontractors who are left high and dry by the principal contractors.
The Executive has recently published the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland 2011-2021. The ten year plan was not actually published until a year and a half in to the ten year period.
Disappointingly, even with such a substantial delay, the strategy falls down on a number of counts. As a forward looking document it suffers from a fundamental failing it puts more focus on the past and the present that on the future. In the substantial section of the document which looks at investment by key sectors, less than a third of the 8000 words are dedicated to future plans.
This lack of foresight and lack of action must end now, it is up to the Executive to ensure that they show leadership and responsibility towards our construction sector and give careful thought to the capital spending works which could help re-energise a key industry.
Further information: Mark H Durkan 07973363702
SDLP Press Office 028 9052 1364
Bi linn ar leas na hEireann – www.sdlp.ie