Council meets with Invest NI Independent Review Panel to discuss the need for change

1st August 2022

Invest NI Independent Review (28.07.22)

The need for a step change in the approach of Invest NI to supporting business and economic growth in the Fermanagh and Omagh district was outlined by Members of the Council during an informal meeting this week with the Independent Panel established to conduct a review of Invest NI’s performance.

The Chair of the Independent Review Panel, Sir Michael Lyons, advised that the purpose of the Independent Review is to provide an independent assessment of Invest NI’s efficiency and effectiveness and, looking forward, its capacity to strategically align with and operationally deliver the 10X Economic Vision.

During the discussion, Council Members spoke of the success of local, home-grown businesses in driving economic growth and of the district’s strengths in the advanced manufacturing and engineering, construction and agriculture/agri-food sectors.

The importance of focused support for indigenous businesses and capitalising on the opportunities arising from the district’s border location were highlighted alongside the need to ensure that infrastructure, such as serviced industrial land to meet the needs of businesses, is readily available.

Elected Members expressed their concerns at a ‘Belfast centric’ mindset within Invest NI corporately and encouraged the Review Panel to look to examples of sub-regional and rural successes, particularly South of the border.

With regard to the Department for the Economy’s 10X Strategy, Council representatives expressed the view that this did not have a sufficient focus on the key sectors underpinning the economy of the Fermanagh and Omagh area, such as Agriculture/Agri-food and construction.

The urgent need for a refocusing of the Department’s strategic approach to meet the needs of all sectors and ensure balanced and inclusive economic growth was also highlighted.

Speaking following the meeting, Council Chair, Councillor Barry McElduff, commented:

‘’I welcome the in-depth and constructive engagement between the Council and the Independent Review Panel.

I also welcome the assurances given by the Panel Chair, Michael Lyons, that the Council’s comments will be fully considered in the development of the Panel’s recommendations.

We need Invest NI to work much better to help businesses West of the Bann in Tyrone and Fermanagh. There needs to a step-change inside Invest NI and they need to show real will to make this happen.

I look forward to the publication of the Panel’s report in the Autumn”.

On completion of the consultation and analysis, the final report will be published on the Independent Review of Invest Northern Ireland website  https://www.investnireview.org.uk/