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SDLP calls on Minister Bell to reflect on his position

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SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood and Chair of the Stormont Enterprise Committee Patsy McGlone MLA have commented on the news of over 1000 job losses at Bombardier.

Mr Eastwood said, “In an interview two weeks ago the Enterprise Minister said he had no indications of any job losses at the Bombardier plant. Today we hear that 580 people have lost their jobs, and 500 other people could be out of work next year.

“The priority today must be the 580 workers who now need a new job and saving the 500 additional jobs which are due to disappear in 2017. They and their families will be reeling from this devastating news. It is regrettable that DETI has yet to address concerns by the industry, made explicit at the start of last year by Manufacturing NI, about the need to develop a strategy to support the sector. However this must now be urgently delivered.

“The scale of the problem we face is alarming. As well as the 1080 jobs going in Bombardier are 2000 from Michelin and JTI Gallaher in Ballymena. The impact will be widely felt – these are people supporting families, homes and our local economy.

“In the same interview when Jonathan Bell said he had no information about potential job losses at Bombardier, he told those who questioned his ability to look at his record. He said he would do all in his power to support the workforce. Today I urge the Minister to indeed look closely at his record and his ability, and reflect on whether he is fit to carry out the responsibilities of the office.”

The Chair of the ETI Committee SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone commented, “There are too many red flags being raised about the Minister’s competence. Last year the ETI committee forced the Minister to do a U-turn over wind power subsidies that would have cost consumers millions of pounds. Just this week he faced accusations of being asleep at the wheel in his dealings with the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme, which left scores of staff and millions of pounds at risk because of his ineptitude.

“Minister Bell visited Bombardier HQ in Montreal four months ago and said he was confident that the long standing and successful relationship between Northern Ireland and Bombardier would continue to ‘bear fruit in the future.’

“It gives me no pleasure to say I believe he is out of his depth in this portfolio. Minister Bell must realise the very serious consequences of this. He said it was probably impossible to take over from Arlene. Sadly this appears to be true.”

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