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Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales 'must work together'

The UK's devolved administrations must work together to get a better deal out of the Treasury during the economic downturn, Stormont's finance minister said today.

Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales should also co-operate more to tackle common issues hitting regional economies, according to Nigel Dodds.

The Democratic Unionist deputy leader called for the joined-up approach after a meeting with his Scottish and Welsh counterparts in London.

He described the discussion with Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney and the Welsh Minister for Finance and Public Service Delivery Andrew Davies as very constructive.

"We have much in common, including a strong desire to alleviate hardship for those worst affected by the current downturn," said the North Belfast MP.

"Between us we agreed to cooperate as appropriate to deal with common issues in the interest of our respective devolved administrations.

"I believe that the UK regions can register a much stronger case by approaching HM Treasury on a collective basis."

The meeting came in the wake of the latest jobs blow to the Northern Ireland economy.

Last night car parts manufacturer Montupet announced that 40 jobs are to go at its plant in Dunmurry on the outskirts of Belfast.

The company blamed the redundancies on falling demand from customers such as Ford.

Unions and employers are also to hold negotiations on a potential cut in working hours for the remaining workers at the plant.

Last year saw the largest annual increase in unemployment in Northern Ireland since 1971, according to Government figures released yesterday.

There were 10,000 extra benefit claimants since June as the local economy suffered from the global downturn.

The construction industry accounted for almost half the latest rise in December, with the overall number seeking jobs numbering 35,900.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph