The news that almost 100 customs jobs are to be lost in the city has been greeted with dismay. Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy has said he will continue to challenge the closure that was announced on Wednesday by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). “HMRC said they carried out a consultation with staff but it did not meet the full equality requirements. This closure will have a disproportionate effect on women from a nationalist background but this was not taken into account. I will be challenging the Equality Commission on whether they are satisfied that a full consultation process was carried out,” he said. “The Newry office has been performing very well and the staff there are excellent so this closure does not make sense. Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy has expressed his disappointment with the news. “This is dreadful news for Newry and having made representations on behalf of the workers I must say I am bitterly disappointed at the loss of these jobs which are vital to the local economy in Newry and the wider south Down and and south Armagh area,” he said. “It is now incumbent on HMRC to make strenuous efforts to redeploy as many of the staff as possible within the civil service and to make proper provision for redundancy and training needs of those who cannot be found posts,” said Mr Kennedy as he committed to helping those effected.”Ulster Unionist Councillor David Taylor has described the closure as a devastating blow to staff and their families saying it had been a week of contrasting fortunes for Newry with the subsequent job losses at HMRC following the announcement of job creation in the city by the Autoline Insurance Group. Mr Taylor added that he hoped HMRC would relocate staff to other posts within their Department or the civil service to ensure the impact of their decision is kept to a minimum. DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA has said he urged HMRC to reconsider the plan when he contributed to the consultation period. “It is certainly very concerning that the Newry office will close especially as there is no absolute certainty if all 93 employees will be offered alternative employment within the civil service. I urge HMRC to move quickly and positively in terms of the relocating of staff and providing those affected with a clear direction in terms of their future. That is a critical management issue for HMRC to now get to grips with and I will be liaising with HMRC on this important point,” Mr Irwin said.
21st October 2014