Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Brick by brick: How Northern Ireland's building industry is slowing recovering

Bricklayers and plasterers on a Carryduff site tell Jack Brennan how they survived the downturn

Cementing the future: Aidan MacAlinden says being unemployed made him feel worthless. Pic David Fitzgerald

The construction industry in Northern Ireland has endured one of the most torrid times in its history. When the recession hit in 2008, thousands of builders and tradesmen of all kinds found themselves jobless.

Some tried to weather the storm, while others looked for pastures new in an attempt to make ends meet for them and their families.

The industry, like virtually all of Northern Ireland's economic sectors suffered badly. It seemed like the building trade was in a never ending free-fall as property prices plummeted.

It is estimated that more than 26,000 jobs were lost across the province since the 2008 downturn, approximately 30% of its workforce.

Across the Irish Sea things are now beginning to look a little brighter though, as jobs within the trade are on the rise again. London and the south-east of England have seen the highest rise in workloads last year, but experts say that Northern Ireland is still lagging behind the rest of the UK.

Still, there now seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, too, for the building industry here.

Last October the construction sector officially exited recession after a rise in workloads was reported for the first time in over five years.

It would appear that the industry has finally hit rock bottom, and now has only one way to go – and that's up. One of the companies in Northern Ireland that has

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