Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland building sector in jobs plea to MLAs

By Clare Weir

A group representing the construction industry has written to every Northern Ireland Assembly member calling for firm decision-making to protect the sector as spending cuts loom on the horizon.

The Construction Industry Group of Northern Ireland has contacted every MLA with a 10-point plan to help minimise the impact on firms as the publication of the Comprehensive Spending Review looms.

The news comes two weeks after a group of leading clergymen told a Stormont committee that business people in Northern Ireland have taken their own lives, partly due to how their banks have treated them since the beginning of the recession and the collapse of the property market.

CIGNI chairman Colin McCarthy said the importance of the construction industry to the long term growth and success of the Northern Ireland economy could not be understated.

"Over the next few weeks our politicians have critical decisions to make that will decide the direction and speed of recovery of our economy," he said.

"We want to support and encourage our MLAs and Executive in making the right decisions that will ensure the long term sustainability of the economy and the future employment prospects of our young people."

The 10-point plan has received widespread industry support.

Bill Gowdy, chairman of the Institution of Civil Engineers, said investment in construction activities has consistently shown to reduce government deficit and stimulate economic recovery.

"It is vital that our politicians make decisions that allow for the maintenance and improvement of our infrastructure and create a substantial number of construction jobs in the short term, and lay the foundation for jobs growth in the future."

John Armstrong, managing director of the Construction Employers Federation said that every £1 invested in construction generated £2.84 in economic activity.

"A recovery in the construction sector will lift the whole economy and deliver tangible improvements throughout our society," he said.

"We need the Northern Ireland Executive to take collective responsibility and drive this recovery for the good of every citizen," he said in his appeal to MLAs.

Meanwhile, concerns have also been expressed about architectural and specialist engineering firms in the province being forced to make redundancies and a reduction in jobs for apprentice plumbers and electricians.