SDLP North Antrim Representative Connor Duncan has called for intervention from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and Invest NI to secure employment in Ballymena and surrounding areas following the loss of substantial jobs over recent years.
He said: “Ballymena has suffered several hammer blows over recent years as businesses that once formed the backbone of the local labour market have relocated and left so many jobless. This has devastated the local economy as the ripples are felt far beyond the companies involved, damaging the spending power of local people and starving other businesses of much needed trade.
“The workers of Ballymena need confidence that we aren’t going to see further losses like this in the days, weeks or months ahead. That means we need assurances from Invest NI and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment that they will do all within their power to ensure that large employers remaining in the area, like Moy Park, are supported. And more than that, we need a commitment from DETI and DEL that where people do lose their jobs, as has happened at Michelin and JTI, that there will be a robust programme of retraining available. Promises were not lived up to after JTI and the people of North Antrim will not forget that.
“More widely it’s imperative that the issues around energy supply and cost as well as freight fees are addressed to make North Antrim attractive for investment. I have been talking to businesses, trade union representatives and local workers in the wake of the Michelin announcement and it’s clear to me that the people of North Antrim want to work, they just need to be supported and given the opportunities. I will continue to press the Minister and Invest NI on these issues with my party colleague and Chair of the Assembly Enterprise Committee Patsy McGlone MLA. The people of North Antrim deserve a better way and we’re determined to provide it.”