A ‘devastating blow for North Antrim’ - Allister

TUV leader Jim Allister.

TUV leader Jim Allister.

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Assemblyman Jim Allister has called on Invest NI to concentrate efforts in North Antrim in the wake of the Michelin closure announcement.

He said: “It is impossible to exaggerate the devastating blow that has fallen on North Antrim this morning with the announcement of the closure of the Michelin plant at Ballymena.

“My thoughts are with the hardworking employees who have received such devastating news today. Here since 1969 and employing 1100, Michelin is the backbone of our manufacturing industry in the area. With the pending departure of Gallahers, Michelin was the mainstay for high grade manufacturing jobs. Ballymena cannot sustain this second massive body blow.”

The TUV leader demanded to know what plans were in hand to ‘rescue’ the situation.

He asked: “I will wish to know everything that DETI and Invest NI have done and are doing to rescue this situation. I have long protested the inactivity of Invest NI in introducing fresh foreign investors to North Antrim. In July I highlighted the fact that in 2014-15 there hasn’t been a single inward investment visitor brought to North Antrim. Over the same period there were 61 to South Belfast alone and North Antrim was the only constituency without a single FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) visit.

“In the previous five years the constituency has only had 8 visits from potential foreign investors and in 2014 received less than 2 per cent of Invest NI’s investment across the province.

“The complacency which arose from us having Gallahers and Michelin has left this constituency short changed in the import of new jobs. North Antrim must now become a priority for Invest NI. The job creating need in this constituency is now critical. Invest NI must make good its past failures.”