Belfast Telegraph

Lobbyists plead for construction sector to be given 'urgent priority'

By Margaret Canning

Protecting jobs and skills in the construction sector must be an "urgent priority" for the Executive, a lobby group has said.

The Assembly's all-party group on construction spoke in Stormont after the Ulster Bank's PMI survey showed the trade last month suffered its most severe decline for more than two years.

Chairman Patsy McGlone said the group urged the Executive to address the concerns of the industry.

"The construction industry is a major employment sector in our society and it has been severely hit by the economic crisis. But it has an important role to play in rebuilding our economy and creating new jobs," said the SDLP MLA.

"We, as political representatives, have a responsibility to assist the construction industry in that role."

The assembly group was set up in 2008 as a forum for MLAs to meet people from industry.

Jim Crooks, chairman of separate organisation the Construction Industry Group, said the downturn had created the worst operating environment for the industry since the Second World War.

"In a community the size of Northern Ireland this magnitude of decline will have far reaching consequences for the economy and social cohesion.

"The stark reality is that if it were not for work outside of Northern Ireland our suppliers of construction materials, our consultants, architects, building and civil engineering contractors, plumbers and electricians would have a blank order book."