STATISTICS which showed Strabane’s East Ward to be the most deprived area in the North are demonstrative of central government’s failure to improve nationalist areas, it has been claimed.
For decades, West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan says, predominantly nationalist areas like the East Ward have been “systematically let down” by government, a trend which is exemplified by the now infamous decision to relocate 800 DARD jobs to Ballykelly despite Strabane
topping the criteria list.
Released in recent days, the new official analysis by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) used data like health, income and education to compare some 890 areas.
Nationalist areas feature prominently in the top 100 and out of the entire 890 areas, Strabane East Ward – which reaches Ballycolman Avenue to Drumrallagh Estate – was ranked number one.
“It’s clear there is a huge issue here where nationalist areas have been left out of the loop when it comes to things like job creation and infrastructure,” Daniel McCrossan said. “It’s easy to see that people have been systematically let down by central government.
“It’s something that I’m very conscious of and you only have to look at the list of these most deprived areas to see that so many of the top 100 areas fall into our own district council area.
“This is something which has been going on for decades and there is a real failure at government to appreciate that nationalist areas have been let down.
“I’m not saying there is an agenda today to leave out nationalist areas, but there used to be. More recently of course you have the classic example of the 800 DARD jobs going to a unionist area despite a predominantly nationalist areas with a history of high unemployment, Strabane, topping the criteria list.”
Apart from East Ward at number one of the list, Ballycolman is ranked at number 37.
Similarly, West Tyrone MLA Michaela Boyle believes new investment must be brought to Strabane.
“This issue of Strabane having one of the highest levels of deprivation in terms of statistics is an issue I have always raised at local government level,” said Ms Boyle.
“I do recognise that some work has been done in regards investment on a community level, however this is something that needs to be readdressed.
“Derry City and Strabane District Council need to look at where its investment is going and find new ways of bringing more investment into Strabane, as this clearly needs to happen.”