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Ulster Unionists call for formation of Harland & Wolff taskforce

Ulster Unionist East Belfast MLA, Andy Allen MBE has written to the NIO and other authorities asking for the formation of a taskforce to protect the Harland & Wolff site for purely manufacturing and employment purposes.

Andy Allen MBE MLA said:

“The news that Harland & Wolff has officially entered administration demands an immediate reaction from the authorities. I have therefore written to the Secretary of State, Belfast Harbour Commission, Invest NI, the Department for the Economy and Belfast City Council requesting they work collectively to form a taskforce to ensure that the land on which Harland & Wolff sits continues to be used for future manufacturing and employment. I believe this task force should work in conjunction with Belfast City Council’s newly established manufacturing forum to urgently explore every possible avenue to ensure the full manufacturing and employment potential of the Harland and Wolff site is achieved.

“We cannot afford to see this site plundered for the development of multi-storey apartments. We should be setting a marker down that we will do everything possible to expand our manufacturing base, and that includes Harland & Wolff, and the site on which it sits.

“The current crisis facing the shipyard emphasises again why Northern Ireland needs a manufacturing strategy to support the sector. We raised it in the Assembly in 2016, have pushed for it to be included in any future potential Programme for Government during the current talks process and will continue to do so.

“Our thoughts continue to be with the workforce and their families at this difficult time and we will do all that we can to support them.”

Former Industry and Employment Minister, Lord Reg Empey, who helped secure the order for the last two ships the Yard built, said:

“What we now need is a can do attitude from both politicians and Government. Hand wringing won't do. The task force Andy Allen is calling for could be followed by the creation of a development corporation, similar to Laganside, which could secure the future development of the site for manufacturing and prevent a plunder of future employment opportunities.”

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