Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Let's give firms hope

Bad enough to lose your job at any time. But to lose your job at the mouth of Christmas is particularly awful.

The plight of workers laid off following the closure of the Patton Group in Ballymena is shocking enough in itself.

But are there more losses to follow? And what, if anything, is Stormont planning to do about this?

As we speak the First and deputy First Ministers are off on a tour of China. Aiming to promote future trade is highly commendable and makes sound economic sense.

But at a time like this we also need a major effort to try to consolidate what jobs we already have; to shore up those local businesses which are facing hard times.

The construction industry in particular, is going through nightmare times. As we all know, when the builders are going well everybody benefits.

So what plans does Stormont have to help this sector?

Rumours abound that other local companies have been badly hit by the Patton collapse. What structures are in place to help them?

We've spent millions in this place down the years on job creation schemes.

Safeguarding those jobs we already have would also seem to be pretty vital - and may even work out as better value for money in the long run.

Nobody begrudges Peter and Martin their trip to Beijing. But right now in Northern Ireland what we need is real action to save real jobs, real businesses.

Not just Chinese whispers of hope for the future.

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