Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Claim welfare row left us in hole over DVA jobs

Foot-dragging over welfare reform could be costing Stormont influence at Westminster – as witnessed by the Coleraine DVA job losses, the Assembly has heard.

Hardline unionist Jim Allister suggested the on-going stalemate on welfare reform left the Executive and Assembly unable to ask London for a favour.

The failure to save the 300 posts amounted to a failure of the Government to listen and politicians here to persuade, the TUV leader said.

He asked whether minister Mark H Durkan to any degree "embraces the unthinkable".

That is, he went on: "When a devolved institution such as this wishes to drag its feet on something such as welfare reform, it makes it much more difficult for it to persuade Westminster on other issues on which we are looking a favour?"

The Environment Minister said: "I see where the Member is coming from by tying this matter into something like welfare reform, but if we are not able to get them redeployed or find work to go to Coleraine, many of those staff will find themselves seeking benefits and help from Government."

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