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Northern Ireland workers 'turned away' from building sites in Republic

By Margaret Canning

Published 25/10/2016

Claims: Gordon Best
Claims: Gordon Best

Construction workers in Northern Ireland have been told to leave the site of a new road being built in the Republic in a row over qualifications, it's been claimed.

Gordon Best, head of industry body the Quarry Products Association (Northern Ireland), claimed workers on road projects in the Republic had been told their UK qualifications were no longer valid and that Irish qualifications were now required.

But he said the row had "nothing to do with Brexit" but instead claimed there was an attempt to protect the interests of Irish companies.

Mr Best said workers showed NVQ-based plant cards as evidence of their qualifications to carry out work. And Northern Ireland industry qualifications body the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) said: "It has come to our attention that NVQ qualifications are potentially not being recognised in southern Ireland and we are concerned that this will have a detrimental effect on Northern Ireland contractors seeking to work in this jurisdiction.

"NVQ qualifications are easily recognised across Europe due to the creation of the European Qualification Framework (EQF). The EQF was designed to link European qualification systems to each other. One of the principal ideas behind the EQF is to support labour market mobility in Europe by simplifying how qualifications are compared, and enable a better match between supply and demand for knowledge, skills and competence."

SOLAS, the CITB's counterpart in the Republic, did not reply to a request for comment.

The Republic has been a major source of work for construction companies in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland firms currently engaged in infrastructure in the Republic include McLaughlin and Harvey, whose staff have been engaged in the realignment of the M2 in Monaghan.

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