Foster says foreign workers benefit Belfast economy


The enterprise minister said she thought it was "wrong for us to say that we only want jobs in Northern Ireland for Northern Ireland people", on 8 April 2014.

Arlene Foster was replying to a question from David McNarry of UKIP about "imported labour jobs" at Harland and Wolff in east Belfast.

The minister said she understood that the short contract to work on an oil rig was initially for 60 days but had been extended.

The figures she had were that of the 600 temporary workers, 200 were from Northern Ireland, 200 from Scotland and northeast of England and 200 from other European countries.

The minister said the wider economy of Belfast had profited from the presence of the workers, particularly in the hospitality sector.

Mrs Foster said there was a shortage of steelworkers and welders in Northern Ireland following the decline of the shipbuilding industry.

She said she would be happy to talk to the employment minister about developing workers' skills in that industrial sector.

Ulster Unionist Michael McGimpsey asked the regional development minister why Belfast had not been included in a scheme for reduced car parking fees in Northern Ireland's towns.

Danny Kennedy replied that the cheap parking scheme had been "warmly welcomed by retail outlets".

He said that measures such as "quality public transport" and park-and-ride facilities meant that Belfast was being fairly treated.

The SDLP's Alban Maginness asked for an update on plans to improve the Enterprise Belfast to Dublin rail service.

Mr Kennedy said he was bringing forward a scheme to improve facilities on the service.

He said the Enterprise scheme was a replacement for the postponed Narrow Water bridge project.

"Ultimately, we want to improve the travelling times between Belfast and Dublin," Mr Kennedy said.

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