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Prime Minister meeting demanded as 90 HMRC jobs to go next May

HMRC is to close its Newry base – with the loss of 90 jobs – at the end of May next year.

It is one of 14 Customs offices which will shut across the UK.

Local politicians have reacted with anger to the news.

Newry and Armagh Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has said he will continue to challenge the closure of the HMRC office in Newry.

“The closure of the HRMC office in Newry with the loss of almost 100 jobs will have a huge impact on the local economy.

“HMRC said that 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.

“The Newry office has been performing very well and the staff there are excellent so this closure does not make sense.

“Sinn Féin will continue to engage with the HMRC to challenge this closure.”

Newry and Armagh MLA Dominic Bradley also described today’s announcement as a “devastating blow to the employees concerned and to the economy locally”.

Mr Bradley reacted angrily to the news and added: “Our thoughts are with those employees this evening. Unfortunately this news was not unexpected as we have rightly feared this was always the intention of HMRC no matter what the organisation or its Ministers in London say.

“From the outset the staff and their union representatives have been deeply suspicious of HMRC’s intentions. Indeed, both Margaret Ritchie MP and I have been highlighting their concerns right throughout this process.

“We believe their consultation process with staff has been deeply flawed and this decision will impact part-time and female workers the most.

“Even in today’s announcement HMRC continue to add insult to injury by implying they intend to seek alternative employment for the Newry staff in other HMRC locations and the Civil Service, whilst they know that is not possible because of different employment statuses of HMRC staff and the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

“Margaret Richie MP and I met with the Treasury Minister David Gauke MP in London to argue the case for Newry and, despite our best efforts, the Government, despite all their pledges to help rebalance the economy here and to make work pay, have slashed jobs and brought the work back to England.

“I am extremely angry and deeply frustrated at this decision and indeed the way the whole process has been handled and, for this reason, Margaret Ritchie and I are seeking a meeting with David Cameron on this issue.

“He cannot speak out of  both sides of his month. On the one hand he says he wants to support the Northern Ireland economy and on the other hand pulls jobs out of Newry. His stance just doesn’t add up.”

UUP MLA Danny Kennedy said: “This is dreadful news for Newry and having made representations on behalf of the workers I must say that 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 south Armagh area.

“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.

“This is a very sad day indeed and the impact will be felt by the workers, their families and the wider local economy. I will certainly do all I can to assist those who are losing their jobs.”

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