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£32m radiotherapy project a huge boost, says Foster

By Margaret Canning

Public sector procurement is a "vital element" in supporting the construction sector in Northern Ireland, the Finance Minister has said.

Ms Foster was visiting the £32m construction site for the Western Health Trust's new radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry yesterday.

The Newtownabbey-based firm McLaughlin & Harvey is the chief contractor on the £32m project - and has also been linked to a project worth £65m at Luton Airport.

The minister said: "This significant two-year construction project will not only deliver a radiotherapy unit but during the lifetime of the project it is creating many more opportunities, providing local jobs in the construction industry and spin-off economic benefits for local service providers such as shops and cafes.

"While McLaughlin & Harvey is the main contractor for the £32m construction project, there are supply chain opportunities for local SMEs."

The minister said the Altnagelvin work reflected that 75% of public sector contracts in the province - worth more than £2.5m every year - go to Northern Ireland firms.

And she added that construction output in Northern Ireland had stabilised over the last year.

Ms Foster said: "The investment in this new radiotherapy unit shows the Executive's ongoing commitment to delivering infrastructure projects that will support the construction sector, improve public services and deliver for the Northern Ireland economy."

The minister spoke as a Construction Employers Federation report said that one third of firms here were struggling.

Managing director John Armstrong said: "Confidence remains fragile, investors remain uncertain and our political leaders need to lead so we can deliver an agreed pipeline of work that will contribute to employment creation and economic regeneration."

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