Belfast Telegraph

Bid to lessen impact of DVA jobs blow in Coleraine

By Noel McAdam

Stormont ministers have been tasked with forming an action plan to cushion the DVA jobs blow in Coleraine and elsewhere.

The initiative was agreed at the latest meeting of the Executive following the shock announcement that 309 equivalent full-time jobs are likely to be lost – 240 of them based in the main Coleraine HQ and 69 across other offices in Armagh, Ballymena, Belfast, Downpatrick, Enniskillen, Londonderry and Omagh.

The decision to transfer all vehicle registration work to Swansea came despite a strong campaign supported by all Assembly parties which involved lobbying in London – including a petition of over 30,000 signatures brought to Downing Street and the Department of Transport.

Now Finance Minister Simon Hamilton and Environment Minister Mark H Durkan, whose department includes responsibility for the DVA, have been asked to make recommendations on how the impact of the decision can be ameliorated.

The Executive has asked them to work with the head of the Civil Service Dr Malcolm McKibben to draw up a report which should be ready for the next meeting in a fortnight. A lunchtime demonstration is being held at the County Hall offices in Coleraine today to protest against the decision and will march towards the Diamond in the town, ending at 1.30pm.

Mr Durkan told the Assembly on Tuesday it was "disgraceful" that the announcement was made while he was out of the country.

"I am bitterly disappointed and angered by this decision, which represents nothing more than a narrowly focused cost-cutting exercise that was made at the expense of high-quality public services and jobs and to the detriment of our local economy,"he said.

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