Council lobbies interim Economy Minister for investment in district

24th May 2024

Members of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s Inward Investment and Economic Development Working Group met with the interim Economy Minister, Deirdre Hargey MLA on Wednesday 15 May 2024 to lobby for investment in the district.
During the meeting the Chair of the Council’s Inward Investment and Economic Development Working Group, Councillor Thomas O’Reilly, highlighted the long-standing issue of regional economic imbalance and underinvestment in the district alongside growth and investment opportunities.
Speaking after the meeting, Councillor O’Reilly, said:
“The infrastructure and investment deficits in the Council area are well known and I welcomed the opportunity to engage directly with the interim Minister to explain key areas of concern and of opportunity in relation to the Fermanagh and Omagh district.
I impressed upon the interim Minister that Fermanagh and Omagh is open for business, with a strong entrepreneurial culture and sectoral strengths in tourism; advanced manufacturing; materials handling; construction and agri-food, and emerging opportunities in areas such as renewable energy and sustainable construction.
While we welcome support more recently from central government and its agencies on Mid South West Growth Deal projects such as the A4 Enniskillen Southern Bypass Scheme and the Ulster American Folk Park, historically, investment from the Department and agencies such as Invest NI and Tourism NI has fallen short of that delivered in other areas of the North and I sought to clarify with the interim Minister if and how the Department plans to redress this long-standing regional economic imbalance.
I also urged the interim Minister to clarify the bespoke package of support that her Department will provide to those impacted by the proposed closure of the BT contact centre in Enniskillen with the loss of over 300 jobs.
The interim Minister advised of her commitment to delivering a regionally balanced economy and to working constructively with the Council, through Invest NI and Tourism NI, to redress the historical under investment including through the development of a Sub Regional Investment Plan and to explore opportunities for the region to align to all island tourism campaigns such as ‘Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands’.  Furthermore, the interim Minister committed to further engage with the Council through the Department for the Economy on the development of bespoke interventions to mitigate the impacts of the loss of BT jobs in Enniskillen.  We look forward to continuing to engage with the interim Minster and her officials following this meeting.”
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is committed to ensuring its communities are strong and resilient and has prioritised the place shaping approach for the district so that the local economy is expanding, thriving and outward looking.
The Council, through its Inward Investment and Economic Development Working Group, will continue to lobby and engage with relevant government departments and agencies in relation to the urgent need for investment in the district to redress regional imbalance.