Leadership and accountability needed from Invest NI after action plan published, says Eastwood

Leadership and accountability is needed from Invest NI, Alliance Economy spokesperson Sorcha Eastwood MLA has said, after the Department for the Economy published an action plan following an independent review into the organisation earlier this year.

Economy Sorcha Eastwood Invest NI

The review found ‘profound divisions’ in Invest NI were damaging it, while questions were raised around the financial support it provided to businesses. The DFE’s action plan says Invest NI will develop and implement a new model for engaging with companies here.

“The independent review of Invest NI was hard-hitting and required a major step change in how DFE and Invest NI operated,” said Lagan Valley MLA Ms Eastwood.

“It revealed significant and fundamental flaws and therefore it is vital lessons are learnt, recommendations accepted, and swift action is taken. Given the scale of the challenge revealed in the report, this will be a long-term project, and never again can we find ourselves in the situation where things have got so out of hand.

“While I am glad to see an apparent emphasis now being placed on addressing regional imbalances, our fractured skills ecosystem and the green economy, I eagerly await the outworkings of this shift in focus. The review rightly pointed out DFE have ‘had many strategies in the past, but it has not given enough attention or sustained effort to their implementation’ and that is our concern in the implementation of these actions.

“Moreover, the independent review asked some fundamental questions, which need to be taken seriously. Ultimately there is of course a role for an agency that promotes and develops NI business locally and abroad, but that must be done in a way that compliments other key strategic goals.

“Leadership and accountability from Invest NI will be crucial and therefore there is an obvious issue remaining, which is the lack of an Assembly and Economy Committee to play an essential role in ensuring scrutiny of DFE and Invest NI. The DUP urgently need to stop their boycott of the institutions and get back to the hard work of governing.”