JTI axe: Invest NI ‘must step up to plate’ - TUV

TUV leader Jim Allister.
TUV leader Jim Allister.

TUV leader and North Antrim MLA, Jim Allister says it is time that Invest NI and DETI ‘stepped up to the plate’ in the area.

He said: “The news that almost 1000 workers will be made redundant as a result of the JTI closure is a devastating blow to those who have given their all to the company, and it is a hammer blow to Ballymena and the wider economy.

“Gallaher’s has been long associated with North Antrim and is one of the big employers in the area and the impact of their closure cannot be underestimated.

“We hear of job announcements by the First Ministers, but it is time Invest NI and DETI stepped up to the plate for North Antrim, which has not benefitted to the same level as other constituencies in terms of new investments.”

Local TUV Councillor for Bannside Cllr Stewart McDonald added: “I am just shocked at the announcement and my immediate thoughts go out to the staff as they face up to the reality of the news facing them. The staff are highly skilled but the job market is daunting and support should be given to them from JTI in preparation for redundancies.”

Fellow TUV Bannside representative, Cllr Timothy Gaston praised the workforce: “The staff of JTI have faced immense pressures over the years in terms of EU regulations and the illegal tobacco trade, but have always been professional and recognised as such. It is such a shame that JTI have made this decision. Those facing redundancies would be an attribute to any company, and I hope no stone will be left unturned in assisting them.”