A decision to lay off up to 80 workers at Northern Ireland tourist attractions has been labelled a “shoddy deal” by MLA Robin Swann.
The Ulster Unionist was commenting after the NI Environment Agency announced the cuts which will affect sites such as Grey Point Fort in Helen’s Bay, Co Down.
Mr Swann said the decision was a “direct fallout” from the Stormont Executive departments having their budgets reallocated.
He said: “At the start of this week a number of NIEA workers approached my office informing me that as direct fallout from the June monitoring round at least 80 workers have now lost their jobs. The final figure has not been confirmed and there are concerns that up to 145 people may ultimately be affected. Whilst some of these jobs were temporary, I know that a number of the people affected have been working with the NIEA for years. Whether people are employed on permanent contracts or as agency workers they still deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.”
Mr Swann added: “Dunluce Castle near my own constituency now faces a real struggle to ensure it holds on to the minimum number of staff required to allow it to remain open. It is ridiculous that at the height of the tourist season the Department of Environment is cutting staff.”
A DOE spokeswoman said they had “no choice but to release a number of temporary agency staff earlier than planned”, but would be “putting in place contingency measures to maintain service levels as much as practicable”.