Shackleton Barracks, Ballykelly: Private Investment

Oral Answers to Questions — Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 2nd March 2015.

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Photo of George Robinson George Robinson DUP 2:30 pm, 2nd March 2015

T4. Mr G Robinson asked the First Minister and deputy First Minister to outline the potential number of jobs that could be created by private investment in the 740-acre Ballykelly site, as well as the relocation of DARD HQ jobs to Ballykelly. (AQT 2184/11-15)

Photo of Martin McGuinness Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin

When a Member get up to ask a question, it is always hard to know what the question will be. However, in the case of the Member for East Londonderry, it was highly predictable that his question would be about Ballykelly. I know that he has a tremendous interest in the development of the site in the interests of the people of the constituency. From that point of view, we sing from the same hymn sheet.

We are absolutely confident about this. Apart from the relocation of DARD's headquarters to the site and NI Water's interest in a project on it, many other expressions of interest have come from private companies, some of them from overseas. Even at this stage, we can predict that, when fully developed on the site, there will be thousands of new jobs. God knows where I will be 10 years from now, but I think that people will remember the decision to use the site to see, over the next short while, what level of interest there is as we sell off lots. As the Member said, it is an absolutely massive site, so we can predict that it will be very successfully exploited for the purpose of putting our people into work.

Photo of Mitchel McLaughlin Mitchel McLaughlin Speaker

A quick supplementary question, Mr Robinson.

Photo of George Robinson George Robinson DUP

I thank the deputy First Minister for his answer. Does he agree that the opposition of political parties to any redevelopment of the Ballykelly site could be damaging to the economic future of the north-west?

Photo of Martin McGuinness Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin

I was surprised to hear that reservations were being expressed. I will not use this exercise as an opportunity to score party political points, except to say that this is a wonderful site and there are tremendous opportunities. The First Minister and I are absolutely determined that we will exploit the development of the site for the benefit of business, bringing in foreign direct investment and putting our people into work. That will be a massive benefit to the whole of County Derry, as I call it, or County Londonderry, as you call it.

Photo of Mitchel McLaughlin Mitchel McLaughlin Speaker

Mr Alastair Ross, I am afraid that I do not have enough time for you to ask a supplementary question, but if you put your question, you will get an answer.

Photo of Alastair Ross Alastair Ross DUP

I will be as succinct as I can, Mr Speaker.