Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said that the redevelopment of a former army base in Ballykelly will “create thousands of jobs”.
Shackleton Barracks is being demolished to make way for the Department of Agriculture’s new base. Up to 700 civil service staff will be relocated to the town as part of the £20m investment.
Describing the project as ‘exciting’ McGuiness said: “I have no doubt that we are going to create thousands of new jobs on this site which will be of immense benefit for people in Derry city, Limavady and Coleraine.
“We have had over 40 other expressions of interest in this site, some of those are some of the most exciting prospects for jobs that I have heard.
DUP MLA Adrian McQuillan has also welcomed the investment.
He said: “There are 700 civil service jobs in total being relocated here, and that can only have a knock on benefit for not just the Coleraine area but also Ballymoney. I understand that upwards of 4,000 applications have been recived by the Civil Service from staff wishing to relocate. Many of these are staff that have been moved across the Province for work, due to the closure of the DVA in Coleraine. Their relocation will also be beneficial to the local economy, and that can only be welcomed.”
McQuillan said that he hopes that the investment at the Ballykelly site will attract investment from the private sector.
“I understand that a number of enquiries have already been recieved, and this in turn could bring more jobs for people in the catchment area.”
DUP MP Gregory Campbell has asked the Ulster Unionist Party to clarify their position on Ballykelly.
He said: “UUP figures, including former leader Tom Elliot and current leader Mike Nesbitt were reported as having withdrawn support for the DARD HQ move to the former Ballykelly Army Camp.
“I understand there is significant private sector interest in the site to complement the DARD move, but the question remains, where does the UUP, now that they have declared a candidate in the forthcoming General Election race in East Londonderry, which obviously includes Ballykelly, stand on this important matter?