Belfast Telegraph

Liam Neeson backs jobs rally for hometown Ballymena

By Claire Williamson

Liam Neeson has given his backing to a rally demanding jobs for his hometown of Ballymena.

The Taken actor has written to union bosses in support of the demonstration taking place next month on February 6.

Almost 2,000 jobs in the town with a population of 30,000 will be lost in the near future after two of the area's biggest employers - Michelin tyres and JTI Gallaher tobacco - announced plans to close.

In an email to Unite Liam said: “I wholeheartedly support the Unite the union Rally for a Future, scheduled for Feb 6th. Urgent action needs to be taken by the government to focus attention on the devastating loss of employment in our area.

"We have one of the finest, conscientious, hard-working, skilled and educated work forces in all of the United Kingdom: not to mention one of the most cultured.

“Attention must be paid! Ballymena and Northern Ireland must be made more attractive to potential international employers. They would be lucky to have such an infrastructure and powerhouse of able and willing workers.

"I believe that nothing less than the future of N. Ireland is at stake here. Unite, people, elected Ministers and political leaders: UNITE! Yours, urgently, Liam Neeson OBE.”

Liam has previously pledged his support for his hometown as the 63-year-old actor, who accepted the Freedom of Ballymena in 2013, has agreed to shoot a special advertisement to promote parts of Northern Ireland.

Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly welcomed the endorsement: “I want to thank Liam Neeson for his ongoing and steadfast commitment to Ballymena and this powerful endorsement of our campaign.

"His words have captured the spirit of the ‘Rally For A Future’ campaign launched by workers at the Michelin and JTI-Gallaher plants. This is about everyone coming together and uniting to demand a better future facing huge levels of job losses.

“Ballymena, like Northern Ireland generally, can offer a well-skilled, educated and committed labour force as well as excellent infrastructural provision. Giving up on proactively seeking foreign investment in Manufacturing is not an option."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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