Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Bombardier job cuts another body blow

Editor's Viewpoint

News that Bombardier is to axe almost 500 jobs - an eighth of its Northern Ireland workforce - is devastating for those facing redundancy.

While there is never a good time for such an announcement, it frequently seems to come around Christmas.

With the province gripped by the debate over Brexit and uncertainty over what the future holds, this is the sort of economic blow that we could well do without.

The absence of a functioning Executive means there is no concerted political voice to question the scale of the redundancies or attempt to persuade the company to think again. It lends urgency to the need for some agreement on the way ahead over Brexit.

The purist position of the DUP in rejecting out of hand anything that hints at a weakening of the link with the UK is at odds with the views of business here.

They see the deal on offer from the Prime Minister as giving a degree of certainty over the future and an opportunity for firms to continue trading virtually unchanged from the current position.

Any attempts to persuade the DUP and UUP of the validity of the Prime Minister's draft is not helped by the comment made by the Taoiseach in the Dail yesterday, when he said the DUP puts the integrity of its "precious Union" above everything else, even if it leads to a "lesser world".

That is an unnecessarily provocative statement, which does not take account of what being a unionist means. The clue is in the name. Unionists' political philosophy is simple and based solely on the Union with the rest of the UK.

It is not an aspiration, but a deeply-held desire to retain that link whatever the cost.

Whatever anyone else thinks of the unionists' position, their concern over the implications for the Union is genuine and deep-seated. Yet that should not prevent them considering seeking a fair settlement which could give Northern Ireland the best of all worlds - able to trade freely with the UK, EU and the Republic until a final comprehensive trade deal is agreed.

However, the political wrangling is of little consolation to those whose jobs are in jeopardy at Bombardier.

These are well-paid jobs and finding comparable alternatives will not be easy, especially if the uncertainty over Brexit and the political turmoil is ongoing. They might wonder how politicians still retain their jobs doing nothing while they are losing theirs.

Belfast Telegraph

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