Mac Bride-type Investment Campaign Needed for West Belfast

Posted By: August 29, 2016

CAPITOL HILL. Monday, August 29, 2016— Alarming figures regarding the performance of

Invest NI in West Belfast is causing deep concern among Irish-Americans, and on Capitol Hill.

The alarm was set off by an Irish News article by Gareth Mc Keown, “Invest NI criticized over ‘economic partition’ of west Belfast businesses” (August 29): “The new figures, released following an assembly question from SDLP MLA Alex Attwood reveal a significantly reduced spend and a disparity in the number of jobs created compared to the rest of the city. Earlier this year figures released for 2011 to 2014 placed west Belfast at the bottom of all 18 constituencies in the north in terms of financial assistance and jobs promoted by Invest NI. In the past three years £7.8m has been spent on existing businesses in west Belfast by Invest NI, yet in the south of the city seven times that sum has been offered to existing businesses.”

Fr. Sean Mc Manus— President of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus, which launched the Mac Bride Principles on November 5, 1984 — said: “ Just released State Papers under the 20-30 rule have ,once again, revealed how the London  Government was so scared of our Mac Bride Principles campaign. To a large degree, it forced through the Fair Employment Act of 1989 (even though our campaign was initially opposed by EVERY political party in Ireland, North and South).”

Fr. Mc Manus continued:” Now it appears that a Mac Bride-type of investment campaign is needed for West Belfast. Just on Sunday there was an article on West Belfast almost rejoicing   that although it has been for many years the ‘fiefdom’ of Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein, it is at the bottom of the economic ladder. That— given these released figures—is a bit like the British Government stealing the land of the Irish, and then looking down their noses at them for having no land. These released figures confirm the view that West Belfast is being punished and penalized for being Republican— nothing more exercises the righteous anger of Irish-Americans (and then Congress) than that. It shows that the British/Unionist ‘West of the Bann’ thinking has not gone away— even though Belfast is east of the Bann.’

Fr. Mc Manus concluded:” The basic motto of our Mac Bride campaign is ‘US dollars should not subsidize anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland.’ It appears that investment dollars have been doing that in West Belfast. Now something must be done about that, too.”