Belfast Telegraph

Villiers hails fall in claimants

The claimant count in Northern Ireland has fallen today for the 17th month in succession, the Northern Ireland Secretary has said.

Her comments came as shadow Northern Ireland secretary Ivan Lewis called for a summit to look into the issue of young people wishing to leave Northern Ireland.

A poll in the Belfast Telegraph, he said, suggested that two thirds of young people wanted to leave Northern Ireland for good, with many citing sectarianism as one of the reasons.

Theresa Villiers told the Commons that a summit would be "helpful" but rebuilding and rebalancing the economy was "crucial too".

She said she hoped the "very positive" announcement on jobs this morning for Northern Ireland would "start to resolve these matters".

Mr Lewis said: "The Secretary of State will agree with me that a successful shared future largely depends on the younger generation. A recent poll in the Belfast Telegraph suggested that two thirds of young people want to leave Northern Ireland for good, with many citing sectarianism as one of the reasons.

"Does she agree with me that a summit of politicians, business people, civil society and representatives of young people should be convened urgently to begin to address this crucial issue."

Ms Villiers said: "Well I'm sure such a summit would be helpful in looking at these matters. I think it is key to make progress on addressing sectarianism but also in addressing that very grave concern that he's raised, re-building the economy and rebalancing the economy is crucial too and the very positive announcement on jobs this morning for Northern Ireland, is something which I hope will start to resolve these matters, not least of which is the fact that the claimant count in Northern Ireland has fallen again today for the 17th month in succession."

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