Newry Chamber members held a meeting with SDLP MLAs, Justin McNulty MLA and Colin McGrath MLA at the ThinkLab, WIN Business Park, Newry on Thursday 11th July 2022.
The focus of the meeting was the cost-of-living crisis but discussions also included a range of business challenges and opportunities. This part of a series of meetings with political representatives.
Edwina Flynn, Chamber Vice President who led the delegation said:
“We welcome the opportunity to engage with political parties. We have a diverse range of members covering multiple sectors. We feel it is important that our members are given a forum to speak directly with elected representatives.”
“We obviously stressed the need for a functioning Executive as the Assembly’s ability to intervene in the cost-of-living crisis is limited at the present time. We saw during the Covid crisis how government could support businesses and consumers with innovative ideas and targeted action.”
“Some businesses are going to need intervention to help them survive. Some members have reported doubling of their energy prices and other costs are rising weekly.”
Other issues discussed included the skills shortage due to Covid and Brexit. In particular, there was good discussion around how the Regional Colleges can support the Government’s 10x Economic Strategy and how demand for higher level apprenticeships is growing. There is a clear need for schools and the Further Education Sector to work together and Newry Chamber are supporting this in the local area.
Daisy Hill Hospital, medical care provision, housing need and planning reform and the need to address vacant properties on the high street were also raised.
Chamber Vice President, Edwina Flynn concluded:
“We thank the SDLP MLAs for meeting our members and we plan to engage further in the future. We have given them a clear view on the issues faced by businesses and their staff. Through continued dialogue we can come up with solutions to address the challenges.”