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Ritchie Joins NI Delegation To Lobby for Regional Aid
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SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has joined with a cross-party delegation of Northern Ireland MPs to bring the case for the retention of Northern Ireland’s Regional Aid Status to Michael Fallon MP, Minister of State for Business & Enterprise.

Speaking after the meeting held in the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills Headquarters in London yesterday (Tuesday 8 January),  Ms Ritchie said: “The purpose of Regional Aid is to support investment and job creation and encourage firms to set up new establishments in Europe’s most disadvantaged regions.

“The SDLP has been consistent in its opposition to the UK Governments withdrawal of Northern Ireland’s automatic entitlement to 100% assisted area coverage, as this fails to recognise the ongoing and unique situation in Northern Ireland, a situation which is not experienced in any other region of the UK.

“Despite efforts in recent years Northern Ireland continues to fall behind the UK. Our unemployment figure is three times what is was in 2007, when the last round of Regional Aid was introduced. Northern Ireland’s land border with the Republic of Ireland, which offers a 12.5% corporation tax rate to investors, heightens the need for Regional Aid to be continued.

“It is vital that Regional Aid continues in order to offer a financial cushion to existing and new business and investors. The removal of Regional Aid will simply make a difficult economic situation worse. This situation must be recognised by the UK government immediately, if we are to ensure future investment in our economy,” added Ms Ritchie.