Northern Ireland Assembly Flax Flower Logo

Northern Ireland Assembly

Monday 17 January 2000 (continued)

12.45 pm

The practical way for the Assembly to go forward and achieve decommissioning is to support this amendment. If we support the Executive and participation in it, if we really want to achieve decommissioning as a fact, the only way forward - one which has been agreed by all parties, those representing paramilitaries and others - is the way I have described.

That is the purpose of the amendment, and for that reason I am sure it will commend itself to the entire Assembly, including the mover and supporters of the substantive motion. I exhort the Assembly to give it its full endorsement.

Rev Dr Ian Paisley:

It is to be regretted that more time was not allocated to this debate. It was neither in your gift, Mr Speaker, nor in mine. However, I wish to state that I took 14 minutes to move the motion. Mr McGrady took 12 minutes for his amendment. Mr Shipley Dalton spoke for eight minutes and Mr Wilson for 10. The time taken by the DUP, the sponsor of the motion, was extremely short indeed compared to that which would have been taken in another place. Members of this House say that I am to blame for their not getting permission to speak. It has nothing to do with me. Their row should be with the Business Committee. I do not see why the Business Committee did not say that this debate could go on until at least one o'clock rather than saying that it should end before that time.

We have before the House today a pan-Nationalist amendment supported by IRA/Sinn Féin and the SDLP. I shall not pass any remarks about the Gentleman from South Down. I understand his beliefs. I understand how he feels. No man can feel sorer than he, having been passed over for office. I can understand his frustration, especially since he is sitting beside the two hon Gentlemen who are hounding him. I think we shall leave it there.

The Mitchell review has been bandied about. The Mitchell resolutions, however, were sell-out resolutions. At the time of the review I said at Westminster what would take place. Nobody refuted it, not even Mr Mitchell. I faced Mr Mitchell on these issues.

A deal was done for the Mitchell review - get Sinn Féin/IRA into offices at Westminster. A deal was done for the Patten Report. A deal has been done for all these things, yet in spite of all their wheeling and dealing and agreement, they have got nowhere. We even have a man who has gone down the road to Damascus and has completely changed. Who would have thought -

Mr Shannon:

He is still blind.

Rev Dr Ian Paisley:

No, he is not blind. He is beginning to see the nature of the beast across the House. He is beginning to see what it is really after.

We are entitled to talk about this matter today. Mr McGrady told us that we were putting decommissioning at risk by talking about it. Then he said that we should not put it at risk. We need to see the decommissioning of all weapons held by outlaws and terrorists. We are not dealing with Army weapons; we are not dealing with police weapons, be they those of the Reserve or otherwise. Of course, since 10,000 soldiers are about to leave, that will mean 10,000 fewer weapons. Eight thousand RUC men will be paid off. Eight thousand Reserve men will go. The rest of them will be disarmed. That is how they will be decommissioned. The IRA, however, will still have its weapons, and those on the so-called Protestant side who wish to hold on to their weapons will hold on to them.

Rev Dr William McCrea:

I would like to thank my hon Friend for giving way. Let us bear in mind that this is the eighth anniversary of the slaughter at Teebane in my constituency.

I stood with my constituents at a headstone to remember. There are Members in this House from IRA/Sinn Féin who know all about Teebane. Will my hon Friend tell the House that this idea of voluntary decommissioning is total nonsense? The IRA has never wanted to give up one of its weapons and will not give up one. Now it is a demand of the people of Northern Ireland. Would my hon Friend agree that, rather than sanitise IRA/Sinn Féin, it is about time that McGuinness, Adams and Molloy were arrested for war crimes against the people of this country?

Mr Speaker:

I advise the Member that I will be studying Hansard afterwards to see whether some of his remarks constitute unparliamentary allegations.

Rev Dr Ian Paisley:

Mr Speaker, you will have great difficulty. You will have to read Hansard at Westminster to see some of the things that have been said by Government Ministers. We can leave that to your good intentions.

This matter runs right into the depths of this community. There is no use brushing it under the carpet. There is no use saying we are going to get it when we are not. The IRA leadership and the Sinn Féin leadership have told us that we are not going to get it, but they are going to get every concession they can squeeze out of a British Government that is terrorised. The Government are afraid of a bomb going off elsewhere in the United Kingdom. They can bomb here, and the British Government will close their eyes to it. However, they cannot bomb across the water for that would disturb the peace of one Tony Blair. To every Unionist and every person who believes in law and order and believes in the safety of the community, I say that, from whatever side these terrorists come, they have got to be faced up to. I say that we can do it in the House today by reflecting the real wishes of the people.

Mr Weir:

Will the hon Member agree with me that the people of Northern Ireland will not accept what might be described as the "David Copperfield" solution to decommissioning? David Copperfield, the well-known American magician, appeared to make the Taj Mahal and the Empire State Building disappear when it was, in fact, a trick with smoke and mirrors. Will the hon Member agree with me that the people of Northern Ireland will not accept a trick with smoke and mirrors with regard to decommissioning? Decommissioning must be real and transparent. It must not only be done, but be seen to be done.

Rev Dr Ian Paisley:

I am sure that the hon Member will take hope from the conversion of his erstwhile Colleague and realise that the holy smoke is over and the mirrors are not reflecting right as far as he is concerned.

Question put That the amendment be made.

The Assembly proceeded to a division.

Mr Speaker:

May I remind Members that there are three minutes between the Division bells sounding and the Questions being put again, and four minutes from the Questions being put and the Doors being secured. Members have, in total, seven minutes from the Division bells starting to ring to get to the Chamber to vote.

The Assembly having divided: Ayes 43; Noes 45.


Alex Attwood, Eileen Bell, P J Bradley, Seamus Close, John Dallat, Arthur Doherty, Mark Durkan, David Ervine, Sean Farren, John Fee, David Ford, Tommy Gallagher, Michelle Gildernew, Carmel Hanna, Denis Haughey, Joe Hendron, Billy Hutchinson, John Kelly, Patricia Lewsley, Alban Maginness, Seamus Mallon, Alex Maskey, Kieran McCarthy, Donovan McClelland, Alasdair McDonnell, Barry McElduff, Eddie McGrady, Gerry McHugh, Mitchel McLaughlin, Eugene McMenamin, Pat McNamee, Monica McWilliams, Francie Molloy, Jane Morrice, Conor Murphy, Mick Murphy, Sean Neeson, Mary Nelis, Danny O'Connor, Eamonn ONeill, Sue Ramsey, Brid Rodgers, John Tierney.


Ian Adamson, Billy Armstrong, Roy Beggs, Billy Bell, Tom Benson, Paul Berry, Esmond Birnie, Norman Boyd, Gregory Campbell, Mervyn Carrick, Joan Carson, Wilson Clyde, Fred Cobain, Robert Coulter, Duncan Shipley Dalton, Ivan Davis, Nigel Dodds, Sam Foster, Oliver Gibson, William Hay, David Hilditch, Roger Hutchinson, Gardiner Kane, James Leslie, David McClarty, William McCrea, Alan McFarland, Maurice Morrow, Dermot Nesbitt, Ian Paisley Jnr, Ian R K Paisley, Edwin Poots, Iris Robinson, Ken Robinson, Mark Robinson, Peter Robinson, Patrick Roche, George Savage, Jim Shannon, Denis Watson, Peter Weir, Jim Wells, Cedric Wilson, Jim Wilson, Sammy Wilson.

Question accordingly negatived.

Main question put and agreed to.


This House demands the handing over of all illegal terrorist weaponry and its destruction in accordance with legislative provisions; acknowledges that the people of Northern Ireland will not accept token decommissioning; and calls for the process of decommissioning to be verifiable, transparent and credible.

The sitting was, by leave, suspended at 1.10 pm.

On resuming -


Oral Answers


2.30 pm

Mr Speaker:

As this is the first occasion on which the Assembly has taken Question Time, I would like to make one or two remarks about how we intend to proceed. I shall call for questions to the Minister - in this case the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment - and I shall call the first Member named on the published list, who is Mr McClelland. The Member shall rise and simply say, in this case, "Question 1, Mr Speaker." The Minister will then rise and respond, as he sees fit. When he has answered, I may call the Member who asked the question to pose a supplementary. That will not always be the case, but in most cases it will be. Again the Minister will rise and answer.

I may then call other Members, or, indeed, I may call the same Member again, but I will then call other Members to pose further supplementary questions. Those questions, to be in order, should be relevant to the initial question. I will do my best to judge that they are.

Standing Orders set down that there will be such questions each Monday when the House is sitting, from 2.30 pm until 4.00 pm. The Business Committee, in discussion with the Executive Committee, has determined that on each Monday when there are Questions three Ministers shall be available, each to answer questions for 30 minutes, or, from time to time, two Ministers and a representative of the Assembly Commission to respond to questions for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes we will move on to the next Minister today, or, on some future occasion, to a Minister or a member of the Commission.

I trust that Members are clear about this.


Enterprise, Trade and Investment

Norfil: Closure

1. Mr McClelland asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment what steps are being taken to ensure that small businesses and suppliers to the now-closed Norfil company will have any outstanding bills and invoices met. (AQO 17/99)

8. Mr McClelland asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment if he plans to review the winding-up procedure of the Norfil company in the Enkalon industrial park, Antrim, and if he will make a statement. (AQO 16/99)

The Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Sir Reg Empey):

With your permission, Mr Speaker, I will take questions 1 and 8 together.

The company is in receivership and has not been wound up. The receiver is still pursuing a purchaser for the business as a going concern. Consequently, it would not be appropriate for me to prejudge the outcome of this process or to make a statement at this time.

Mr McClelland:

Does the Minister agree that continuing job losses in the textile and clothing industry are not only having a very serious impact on the economy vis-à-vis direct redundancies but that they are also having a great impact on those small and medium- sized firms that were suppliers to these industries?

Sir Reg Empey:

I agree with the hon Member that we have had a number of announcements in the last couple of weeks with regard to textiles, and there are other Questions which relate to this that I shall be answering later. I agree with the Member that the suppliers of these organisations are often the people who are hurt by this and they are not necessarily the first to be in the public domain about it. I am satisfied that both the IDB and LEDU are actively pursuing with the small companies - and the larger ones if necessary - what assistance can be offered. I can assure the hon Member that in this particular case if any approaches are made by companies to any of the agencies answerable to this Department, they will receive a very sympathetic response.

Mr Speaker:

I remind Members that the appropriate way to indicate a wish to ask a supplementary question is to rise to one's feet partially when another Member is asking his supplementary. There having been no such indications, I call Mr McGrady.

Disadvantaged Areas: Investment

2. Mr McGrady asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment what his policy is for attracting investment to areas of greatest disadvantage and unemployment in Northern Ireland. (AQO 4/99)

Sir Reg Empey:

Under the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment's new targeting social needs (TSN) action plan, which is at present out for consultation, the IDB will seek to ensure that at least 75% of first-time visits by potential investors and 75% of first-time investment projects go to new TSN areas.

Mr McGrady:

I thank the Minister for his reply, which is very encouraging. May I, first of all, congratulate him on his appointment and wish him well in that office. He says quite correctly that we are in a consultation period in respect of TSN. Is he aware that there are very localised endemic areas of deprivation and unemployment which are not covered by existing TSNs, and thereby potential inward investors who would have an enhanced grant-aid package - if they were so designated - would possibly take a very close look at them. I know from my own experience that in Down district alone there are two wards which are the most deprived, from a TSN point of view, outside the city of Belfast, yet they are excluded from the enhanced packages that would be available to inward investment because the targeting is not sufficiently accurate. Will the Minister review that in the ongoing consultation period?

Sir Reg Empey:

It had occurred to me that the hon Member may have had Down District Council in mind. It is, as he says, not one of the councils designated for new TSN. I am very conscious of the fact that there are pockets of deprivation which are included in areas which are not designated areas. We see this illustrated very graphically in urban areas, and, indeed, the Member accurately cites his own district. The consultation process will run until 7 February; it will then be up to all of us to assess how we deal with it. At this stage my own personal feeling is that, subject to what other representations might be received, we have to focus on the fact that it is people who suffer from deprivation, not streets, and therefore we have to focus the cure for this problem on areas where people are.

We will have to look very closely at this. It is, I suspect, going to be one of the very core issues of the new programme for government, into which the Member and his Colleagues and others will have input. I take his point, particularly as I know that in his area considerable efforts are being made, particularly with the Belfast Road industrial estate in Downpatrick, the second phase of which, I am pleased to be able to tell him, will be completed by June. That will at least provide the opportunities for people to come and invest.

However, the wider point that the Member makes is something to which we will all have to address ourselves when the programme for government is being debated. There is hardly a Member in this room who would not find him or herself in a position of having pockets of deprivation in their constituencies, even if the district council area is not a designated area. The point is well taken.

Mr McCarthy:

May I thank the Minister for coming so quickly to my constituency last week, following the disastrous news of job losses in Killinchy, Newtownards, Saintfield and, possibly, Carryduff, which could up until now have been regarded as a fairly well-to-do area but could now be turned into almost an area of social need. Will he assure this House that he will do all in his power to attract as much investment as possible to replace the likely job losses?

Sir Reg Empey:

The hon Member refers, of course, to the recent announcements that have affected the Strangford and Ards Borough Council areas, in particular, and also North Down. As he rightly says, I decided last week, in response to representations, to visit the borough council. I understand that the previous evening a meeting had been held to establish a task force to try to address the problems that arise in that area. I told the mayor that I would ensure that the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment agencies would co-operate with that task force, and that, while I could not guarantee there would be permanent representation of officials, certainly, where necessary, we would send them along to meet the task force.

It is also true that those representatives of my Colleague the Minister of Higher and Further Education, Training and Employment will also have to be intricately involved in this, and I do not doubt that the council will be pursuing that.

I would make a wider point that I am aware - and this has been brought to my attention by Colleagues over the weeks- that areas such as Ards and North Down have exceptionally large rates of male unemployment. They are much higher than would have been expected years ago, and the "gold coast" image is not applicable. It comes close to the response I gave to Mr McGrady when I said that new TSN has to be refined to such an extent that we can direct it, where possible, to those areas where the need arises, irrespective of their location.

In response to the current crisis, we have not given up hope that, although some of the companies have taken protective redundancy notices, it does not mean that the matter is settled, that the companies are finished, or all the jobs are lost. I have made it clear many times that in the event of any approaches being made by the companies, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment agencies will respond positively. We have been in negotiation with one or two of the companies - sadly one of them chose not to inform us in advance of the losses that were anticipated - and we will respond positively where we can.

Mr Beggs:

Further to comments made by Colleagues about the east of the Province having areas of deprivation and high male unemployment, may I ask if the Minister is aware of the high male unemployment in the Carrickfergus borough area, where the rate is approximately 11%? This is in an area which would be thought of as being well off. Will the Minister consider widening the new TSN criteria so that help can be provided to areas where there are very low numbers of jobs so that people do not have to commute to Belfast to find employment?

Sir Reg Empey:

I am also aware that Carrickfergus, after Ards and North Down, has a considerably high rate of male unemployment. The question touches on the issue already referred to, and that is how we deal with this new TSN issue.

Boroughs like Carrickfergus do not qualify, as a whole, in that regard, given the total economic statistics. It might be interesting for Members to know how the areas were chosen. A measure was made of the long-term unemployment in each of the local government districts. When the diagrams were complete and the percentages of long-term unemployment, compared to total unemployment, were established, there was a clear dividing point at 47%. A group of councils was above that point, and another group was below. That point became an arbitrary dividing point based on the performance of those boroughs. However, that hides the fact that throughout the Province- and this is an issue we must come back to - there are pockets of deprivation even in the midst of plenty. We will have to address this issue as an Assembly and as an Executive when we bring forward a programme for government.

Mr Maskey:

A Chathaoirligh. I thank the Minister for addressing the issue of TSN. I would like to refer to TSN as it is referred to in the Good Friday Agreement. It says that TSN must be dealt with and that we are supposed to be working towards new and more focused TSN, particularly with regard to how we address the differential in employment levels which currently exists between our communities in many constituencies. We welcome the fact that we have a commitment that the Assembly will return to address this very wide-ranging question of TSN. How it will redress the differential in employment levels between both communities will also have to be addressed.

Sir Reg Empey:

I refer to the answer I gave some moments ago.

2.45 pm

Antrim Area: Investment

4. Mr McClelland asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment what plans his Department may have to promote the Antrim area to outside investors. (AQO 20/99)

Sir Reg Empey:

During the last three years the Industrial Research Training Unit (IRTU) Compete Programme has awarded £99,000 to James Lecky Design Limited (Dunmurry) in response to two applications. LEDU has awarded £30,184 to Just Mobility of Warrenpoint to establish a business to refurbish wheelchairs. LEDU is currently considering an application -

Mr Speaker:

Order. May I draw the Minister's attention to the fact that it is question 4 that was posed. I called Mr McClelland because Mr Fee, who was to ask question 3, was not in the Chamber.

Sir Reg Empey:

I apologise. I thought you had called Mr McClelland to ask Mr Fee's question.

Mr Speaker:

Indeed not. Perhaps the Minister will now answer question 4.

Sir Reg Empey:

Within the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment the Industrial Development Board promotes Northern Ireland to potential outside investors, and Antrim is an important area in that promotion. IDB's most recent annual report, 1998/99, records that, outside Belfast, Antrim was the district council whose area was most frequently visited by potential investors.

Mr McClelland:

I thank the Minister for that information. May I take this opportunity to invite him to come to Antrim to speak to some of our industrialists and economic development agencies and to look at possible locations for future inward investment?

Sir Reg Empey:

I have had invitations from some local authorities and have already attended one meeting. I would be very happy, should an invitation materialise, to visit Antrim. I would make the point that the IDB, in the pursuance of inward investment, has brought a number of visitors to the Antrim area. Statistics show that there have been 18 investments in the last few years in the Antrim council area, providing £22·6 million of assistance towards total investment of £84·1 million. That is a good record, but I would be happy to visit the borough if invited.

Mr Ford:

I welcome the Minister's answer and thank him for it. However, may I take the Minister back to the subject of the Norfil closure and remind him that the largest building on the Enkalon site, which Norfil occupied, is now lying empty. I appreciate the point that the Minister made earlier about the work of the receiver and not wishing to conflict with his duties in attempting to sell the business, or the premises at least. Would the Minister give a commitment that his Department will accept the responsibility of ensuring that the building is reoccupied and the workers re-employed if the receiver is unsuccessful?

Sir Reg Empey:

I wish it were as easy as that, but the Member will realise that there are still people employed there by the receiver at the Enkalon Park, on which Norfil was trading, while he is trying to sell the company as a going concern. Clearly this Department's responsibilities, including company regulation and so on, prohibit me from getting involved in the details pertaining to the particular company. However, with respect to the wider question, yes, the IDB will be assisting in any way possible to market the site which is, as I understand it, in private ownership. There are other IDB-owned sites within the Antrim Council area, all of which are, of course, potential sites for investors.

Re-employing the workforce depends largely on the receiver's finding a buyer for the business as a going concern or on attracting new business to the area, but I can assure the Member that the location will be put on the IDB's register of sites because it is in private ownership. If any potential investor were to come along, we would certainly be happy to show him the location.

Mr B Hutchinson:

I was interested in the Minister's answer to question 4. Under the Tory and Labour Governments my understanding was that the IDB was not allowed to promote individual sites. Rather, it had to promote the Province. I am wondering if that is why IDB sites owned and registered in north Belfast have not been seen. Have all potential investors been taken to Antrim?

Sir Reg Empey:

The IDB's responsibility, where we have a potential investor, is to show that investor locations which suit his particular requirements.

Obviously what suits one company does not suit another. It is worth making the point that ultimately companies themselves decide where they go - we cannot dictate to them. We can give them incentives to go to areas of particular need, but in the final analysis they make their own decisions.

While I do not have a detailed brief in front of me regarding what is available in north Belfast, the fact remains that since large numbers of wards in that area qualify under TSN or, indeed, any measure that one would care to take, we will look very favourably on giving assistance, and particularly enhanced assistance, to companies going into that area.

A8 Trans-European Route

5. Mr K Robinson asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment what discussions have taken place between his Department and the Department for Regional Development to ensure that the A8 Trans-European Network Status (TENS) route will adequately service the IDB site under construction at Corr's Corner. (AQO 8/99)

Sir Reg Empey:

A preliminary traffic impact assessment (TIA) was completed in June 1999 in liaison with the then Department of the Environment. A detailed TIA will be undertaken by the developer selected by the Industrial Development Board to develop the Ballyhenry site. The scope of this TIA will be agreed with the Department for Regional Development.

Mr K Robinson:

Will the Minister assure the House that he and his Department will work in closer conjunction with Newtownabbey Borough Council to ensure that the future development of this, the largest current IDB site, situated at Corr's Corner, is pursued vigorously, given its employment potential for large areas of east and south Antrim and north Belfast?

Sir Reg Empey:

This development is potentially very exciting for the entire area. This is one of the largest individual land holdings in the portfolio, and there are 147 acres of zoned land there. It is currently in the hands of consultants because we were able to select and shortlist three potential developers. I can assure the Member that as well as the planning process that will have to be gone through in detail, the IDB will consult very closely with the local councils and, depending on how the development goes, further TIAs may have to be undertaken. The whole infrastructure, from both a real and a business point of view, as well as the question of access to it, will also have to be looked at.

Mr K Robinson:

When will the Minister visit the site to see its potential?

Sir Reg Empey:

I am not unfamiliar with the location. The Member will be very glad to hear that those of us who reside in Belfast do occasionally go outside the city. However, the reality is that the timetable for this is quite short. Proposals within the framework of the master plan development brief are going to be in by 3 March, but because it is one of the largest developments currently in the IDB's portfolio, I am happy to give the undertaking that I will visit the site.

Textile Industry

6. Mr Neeson asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment if he will make a statement on the crisis facing the textile industry in Northern Ireland. (AQO 22/99)

Sir Reg Empey:

Obviously this relates to the question from the hon Member's Colleague. However, the impact of competition from imports from lower cost economies and the strength of sterling present formidable challenges to our textiles and clothing companies. In spite of the recent job losses, Northern Ireland has some very strong and competitive companies, and they must continue to focus on excellence through innovative and higher added-value products.

Mr Neeson:

As someone who witnessed at first hand the collapse of the man-made fibres industry in the 1970s and 1980s, I feel there is no room for complacency now.

I see some similarities, and I am pleased that the Minister accepts there is a crisis in the industry. Does he intend to instigate an urgent review of the textile industry in Northern Ireland, bearing in mind issues such as quality, design, value for money and the impact of European directives?

Sir Reg Empey:

I know that the Member is well versed in the problems, coming from the area he represents. We must also remember the point he made about European directives. The Norfil plant in Antrim was a company that the IDB was unable to support. Its products were already in oversupply in the European Union and the IDB was prohibited from helping. This is an issue which has re-emerged within the last couple of weeks. Before Christmas a number of announcements had initiated some action with regard to the textile industry, for the simple reason that it accounts for almost 20% of our manufacturing workforce and, depending on how it is measured, employs some 18,000 to 20,000 people.

I intend to meet the Northern Ireland Textiles Association, a coherent, industry-wide representative body, and other bodies such as the Linen Guild. I have already initiated this. I have also discussed the matter with the chairman of the Industrial Development Board, who is very much of this mind. In its dealings with textile companies, the IDB tries to encourage them to move, through company development programmes, to higher value products, whether it is in the design, technical or fashion areas.

There is an impression given that everything with regard to textiles is bad news. This is not the case. There are some excellent textile companies in Northern Ireland. They are very forward-looking, and they are strong in export markets where they have gone out and sought to sell high-value products. Last week nine Northern Ireland companies attended the Heimtextil Exhibition in Germany, and the potential for new sales was very encouraging.

IDB is leading a visit to a French textile engineering school to explore the best ways of implementing technical textile development programmes. The University of Ulster, the Industrial Research and Technology Unit, local companies and trade unions will take part in the visit. I hope that this, combined with other measures, will focus the minds of the industry on improving and trying to get out of the present difficulties, bearing in mind the situation in the High Street, on which we are very dependent. Several of our local problems have been caused by companies having only one customer. This is something which must be avoided in the future.

Mr Fee:

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is pursuant to Standing Order No 19(9). I apologise that I was not here to be called earlier. I had gone to check that the question I tabled was put as a written question. I did not expect the Minister to be here to give me an oral answer, although I would be delighted if he would take the opportunity to do so now.

Mr Speaker:

Unfortunately, he is unable to do so on a point of order. It is now out of order since it was actually question 3. Had you been here you would have found that he was trying to give an answer to you, even though you had not asked the question.

Targeting Social Needs

7. Mr Maskey asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, given the commitments in the Good Friday Agreement, if he has been able to consider how to implement Targeting Social Needs with regard to investment programmes in constituencies such as West Belfast. (AQO 30/99)

Sir Reg Empey:

Although the Belfast City Council area as a whole does not meet the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment criteria for new targeting social needs, the IDB will have the flexibility to treat those wards of the city having a high proportion of long-term unemployment, and those wards adjacent to them, as priority areas attracting enhanced levels of assistance for inward investors.


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