Minister called to join jobs rally

Robin Swann. (Editorial Image)
Robin Swann. (Editorial Image)

A local MLA has called on the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) to join the ‘Rally for a Future’ in Ballymena next month.

Being organised by Unite the Union, the rally will take place at Ballymena Bandstand on Saturday, February 6, from 12pm and UUP Assemblyman Robin Swann has challenged the DETI Minister to be there and “show solidarity with the workers and community of North Antrim”.

The message from local Union representatives is that if investment cannot be secured in the borough then Ballymena will ‘waste away and die’.

Residents, employers and employees in the borough are being called to take a stand and make their voice heard at the rally.

Unite Representative Susan Fitzgerald, told the Ballymena and Antrim Times that support for it is gaining momentum.

Assemblyman Swann threw down the ‘join us’ gauntlet to the Minister following a response he received from him in the Stormont Chamber during questions on the future prospects of the local manufacturing sector.

The Minister stated: “I have already joined a lot of residents, the manufacturing sector, a number of new businesses and Unite the Union at a very productive meeting. I did that under the radar because there are obviously a lot of commercial sensitivities attached to where there have been job losses.

“I can tell you that we have been looking specifically at the sites that were lost and developing the product that is there. Without breaking any commercial sensitivities, I can say that we have been looking at where some of the existing successful businesses are in the area and at what we could grow on those sites.

“I will keep that constituency - as I will keep all of Northern Ireland - very firmly in my mind as we seek to take forward a unique proposition.

“I encourage the Member and all others to join me as we take that message right across the globe to continue that trajectory of attracting more foreign direct investment per head to Northern Ireland than any other part of the United Kingdom, including London,” the Minister told Assemblyman Swann.

Mr Swann added: “This may be fine rhetoric from the Minister, but it is now time for him to put his money where his mouth is and show solidarity with the workers and community of North Antrim.”