HMRC consultation on Newry jobs ‘farcical’ – SDLP

April 7, 2014

A 12-week consultation period proposed by Revenue and Customs (HMRC) into the future of jobs in its Newry office has been criticized by SDLP MLA, Dominic Bradley, who termed the exercise “a farcical stunt”.

Questioning the British government’s real commitment to boosting the economy in the north, both Mr Bradley and party MP, Margaret Ritchie, have reacted angrily and vowed to support the local workforce in Newry.

Explaining the situation to date, Mr Bradley said Newry staff “were told of plans to offer voluntary redeployment or voluntary redundancy in the coming months, which will no doubt be followed by compulsory redundancies after this ‘consultation’ exercise”.

“In reality there are little or no opportunities for redeployment, so HMRC are being dishonest from the outset.  The bottom line is that HMRC and the British Government intend to close their operations in Newry either by stealth or by force,” he said.

Voicing his party’s opposition to HMRC’s actions, he says the proposed closure of the agency’s Newry office is “driven purely by an unhealthy appetite to make cost savings at the expense of front line services”.

“HMRC have already closed their Tax Office located in Downshire House on Merchants Quay and they have reduced the number of days the Enquiry Office is opened to three days per week on a part time basis.  The closure of this facility will cut off vital personal support for pensioners, migrant workers, and disabled people including those with learning disabilities and both Margaret Ritchie and I have been to Westminster and brought this issue to the Treasury  to express the our opposition to these proposals.”

South Down MP Margaret Ritchie also reacted angrily saying: “David Cameron and his government are constantly telling us they want to support the Northern Ireland economy, and yet they continue to run down and withdraw vital public services and jobs in the local economy.

“We now need the Prime Minister to live up to his commitments to the Northern Ireland economy, it is all well and good bringing world leaders to Fermanagh for the G8 and encouraging them to invest here, and yet at the same time Mr Cameron and his colleagues are withdrawing jobs, it’s a bit rich.  The SDLP have been and will continue to work with the staff at Custom House in Newry.  We will campaign to retain the jobs there,” she added.