Gaston rounds on Bell over manufacturing comments

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Mid & East Antrim’s Deputy Mayor has said that the Stormont DETI Minister’s reported comments on Northern Ireland manufacturing show he is ‘not living in the real world’.

Jonathan Bell told the DUP conference on Saturday: “Don’t let anybody tell you that manufacturing in Northern Ireland is in a difficult position”.

Now, he has been challenged on this position by Cllr. Timothy Gaston of the TUV.

He fumed: “Does Minister Bell live in the real world? Maybe the Minister should come down at tell that to the workers of JTI and Michelin - tell them that manufacturing is not in a difficult position even though they are all set to lose their jobs in the next number of years.

“North Antrim has taken some serious blows in the last number of years and each time we hear the same old nonsense about Corporation Tax reduction and Invest NI putting in more effort. The telling tale for Michelin is that they told us energy costs were crippling them – and low and behold nothing was done and they are shutting down.

“Invest NI’s record in North Antrim is criminal – in the last five years North Antrim has had only 8 foreign direct investment visits via Invest NI. The rest of Northern Ireland had 968 such visits. That is on the DUP watch.