Ian Pearson, MP, NIO Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment was in West Belfast today to announce the commencement of the regeneration of the former Mackies complex in advance of a £26 million investment to provide a new mixed use business park.

Announcing the start of site clearance work Mr Pearson said: ”Spearheaded by Invest NI, this is an exciting project for West Belfast which fulfils key recommendations set out in the report from West Belfast and Greater Shankill Task Forces.

“The new park will provide modern infrastructure, a high quality working environment and almost a quarter of a million square feet of business and industrial space. This offers the capacity to attract up to 770 new jobs.

“Invest NI is taking the lead in the provision of the infrastructure framework and the two workspace progression units and the regeneration scheme will be supported by a £2 million funding contribution drawn from the EU Peace II – Economic Re-vitalisation Programme. It is also the intention of Invest NI to engage with the private sector in the provision of premises at the park.

“Today’s announcement is a significant step in a process that has taken time, commitment, and involved extensive planning and widespread consultation. I pay tribute to the dedication of all those involved, among them the local community representatives whose passion to make West Belfast as a better place to work and live has been a driving force behind the project.

“Government shares this vision and we are committed to continuing to work with the community to find solutions to the socio-economic problems in the area. The new Integrated Development Fund will be part of this process.

“We recognise that there is still much work to be done and we are still closely engaged with the local communities on some outstanding issues. However, I am confident that today’s announcement, together with the recent establishment of the new Employment Services Board, will play a key part in improving the economic prospects of the people of West Belfast.”