16/10/2008

Call For Executive To Meet As Jobs Crisis Looms

There has been a fresh call for an end to bickering over the failure of the NI Executive to meet.

DUP MLA and member of the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee, Robin Newton, said as unemployment figures are confirmed as being the highest within the past 22 years, the refusal of Sinn Féin to attend Executive meetings sends a negative message to those who face redundancy and business difficulties.

"As the construction industry pays off skilled tradesmen, retailers complain of falling sales and the unemployment rate rises to 4.5% Sinn Fein's obstructive attitude to an Executive meeting is an impediment to addressing the problems," he said.

He also noted that the current global economic situation "is dire".

"To refuse to address all economic opportunities, to 'say no' to collectively moving the economy forward, to turn down Executive meeting opportunities to agree capital spend projects is the height of political irresponsibility," he said.

However, a Sinn Féin MLA has also called on the Assembly to deliver more much-needed construction jobs.

Barry McElduff, Chairperson of the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee, said the devolved government has the ability to to create more jobs in the ailing construction sector through capital spending programmes.

He said: "Sinn Féin are extremely concerned with the highest jump in over twenty years in unemployment figures.

"The Assembly have the ability to alleviate some of the burden upon the industry by bringing forward, as a matter of urgency, capital spending programmes from each Department.

"These have already been agreed in the budget and the money is there. This could lead to an injection of construction jobs into the labour market and relieve the stress and financial difficulty facing many of the workers and their families.

"A clear example of one such project is the construction of a multi-sports stadium at the site of Long Kesh.

"Unfortunately the DUP's Gregory Campbell is playing politics with this particular project, whether it will go ahead or not, or indeed where it will be located.

"This attitude will in no way aid the construction workers who are, no doubt, waiting for any opportunity to get back to work."

(BMcC)

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