A NEW hub that will provide civil service workers with the opportunity to base themselves closer to home is expected to open in Omagh next year.
In February, the Finance Minister, Conor Murphy, announced the scheme for a number of towns across the North to become regional service hubs.
In response to a question from West Tyrone SDLP MLA, Daniel McCrossan, the Minister said it is hoped that the new hub in Omagh will open in 2022, although details of the number of jobs to be relocated and the location for the hub have still to be finalised.
“Planning for the Connect2 hub in Omagh is in its early stages and the location and details of the facility remains to be determined. But it is envisaged that it will open in 2022,” Minister Murphy said.
“My officials have already met and will continue to meet with the Chief Executive of Fermanagh and Omagh
“District Council and her team to explore options to maximise the local regeneration and impact of the hub.”
Mr McCrossan (pictured right) said that, given the impact of the pandemic, local staff shouldn’t have to travel for work and should be offered remote working permanently and given the option of having an office locally if needed.
“The Connect2 hub will provide just that and I hope that more Government departments decide to decentralise out of Belfast and invest in our towns across Tyrone. I hope this move is a first step in that direction,” he said.
Last week, two Dungannon councillors expressed their disappointment that the town has not been considered for one of Northern Ireland’s proposed civil service hubs with one branding the decision ‘absurd’.
Cllr Clement Cuthbertson said it was “absurd” no Mid Ulster locations are included on the list and called on the Finance Minister to consider Dungannon.
“I find it absurd that Mid Ulster does not feature in any of these plans by the Finance Minister,” said Cllr Cuthbertson.
“Dungannon would be an ideal location… Just think of the positive impact of 50 to 100 workers coming into a town centre like Dungannon and the impact they would have in our businesses and coffee shops.”
Ulster Unionist Party group leader, Cllr Walter Cuddy said he was in full support of Cllr Cuthbertson’s request, noting that with both the First and deputy First Minister from the area, it is time for the district to reap the benefits.
“I don’t care which Minister it is, I know Dungannon has never been able to avail of any central government jobs, if anything they have been moving out,” said Cllr Cuddy.