The Ulster Unionist Party’s East Belfast MLA, Andy Allen MBE, has welcomed the announcement by the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) that it has reached a joint understanding with the Department for the Economy, which means it will continue to operate the ship until 31 December 2020, marking a temporary reprieve for the staff, who were at risk of redundancy on 31 October with the ending of the furlough scheme.
Andy Allen MLA said:
“I welcome this temporary reprieve for the dedicated staff of HMS Caroline, which I understand was reached yesterday and communicated to staff early this morning.
“While I welcome the halting of the redundancy process I would encourage the Department for the Economy to bring forward detailed plans before 31st December 2020 outlining the way forward to secure this historic ship's future in Belfast and give some much needed certainty to the employees and staff.
“HMS Caroline is the last surviving ship from the 1916 Battle of Jutland, the key naval battle of the First World War. She has been resident in Belfast since 1924 and deserves a great deal more respect than she has been shown in recent times. It would be simply unforgivable if she were to be removed from Belfast and sent to Portsmouth or indeed anywhere else.
“Given its unique history, this ship should form a key feature of the wider tourist offering, not just in Titanic Quarter, but in Belfast as a whole. Everything must be done to ensure she remains in Belfast and is given the support needed to operate as viable tourist attraction.
“I and my party colleagues will continue to actively work with all concerned to achieve a successful resolution in securing the future of HMS Caroline in Northern Ireland.”