Councillors raise local issues with Finance Minister

Published: 8th August 2016

A cross party delegation of Fermanagh and Omagh District Councillors met with Finance Minister, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, at the Townhall, Enniskillen on Monday 1 August 2016 to discuss a number of key issues for local residents and businesses.

Chairperson of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Cllr Mary Garrity, welcomed the Minister to the Townhall, where he met with Cllrs Armstrong; D. Coyle; Irvine; McAnespy; McPhillips; O’Reilly; Robinson; and Rogers. Sean Lynch MLA, who had invited the Minister to the area, was also in attendance.

During the meeting, the Minister was provided with an overview of the key social, economic and environmental characteristics of the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area and an overview of the Council’s finance and employment statistics.  He was also provided with details of the key issues for the Council including regeneration and tackling rural disadvantage; waste management and the need for further investment in roads, telecommunications and flood alleviation infrastructure.

In relation to roads Members highlighted the importance of securing the necessary investment to complete the A5 dual carriageway in its entirety, to enhance the N4 East West corridor including the southern bypass in Enniskillen, to improve the A32 between Omagh and Enniskillen and to upgrade the rural road network. In relation to telecommunications, Members discussed the requirement for increased investment in broadband technology including fibre to premises and improved mobile telecommunications.

Council Members also discussed rating policy with the Minister in relation to vacant town centre properties and partly completed properties and highlighted the need for the Minister to bring forward a revaluation of the domestic sector as capital values used in the last revaluation have changed substantially.

They also discussed the financial implications of Brexit and in particular, the uncertainty regarding EU funding going forward.

Other issues discussed included the tourism potential of the area, the need to maximise tourist spend and the difficulties encountered as a result of the different VAT rates that apply within the tourism and hospitality sector in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

At the end of the meeting, the Minister asked for further details to be sent to him on a number of issues for further consideration and undertook to revisit the Fermanagh and Omagh district in six months’ time and to meet again with Council Members.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Mary Garrity said she welcomed the opportunity for elected members to highlight local issues to the Minister.

“I was pleased to welcome Finance Minister, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, to the Townhall to engage with elected representatives,” said Cllr Garrity.

“The meeting provided a valuable opportunity to address the Minister directly about local issues and engage in meaningful discussion. I welcome the Minister’s commitment to visit the district again over the next number of months and to meet with elected representatives,” she added.

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