Paisley: Government has said ‘naff all’ on Michelin closure

Ian Paisley said he fears NI is being treated as a 'place apart'
Ian Paisley said he fears NI is being treated as a 'place apart'

Ministers have been criticised for saying “naff all” after it was announced that 860 jobs will be lost following the closure of a Michelin tyre factory.

Democratic Unionist Ian Paisley said he fears the UK Government is treating Northern Ireland as a “place apart” as it has its own devolved assembly.

The company said it is “running down” the truck tyre factory in Ballymena, Co Antrim, ahead of closure in mid-2018.

The move is part of a Michelin restructuring plan that will see investment in its facilities in Dundee and Stoke on Trent.

Raising a point of order in the Commons, Mr Paisley (North Antrim) said: “Twenty-seven hours ago the single largest job loss announcement was made in Northern Ireland with the loss of 860 directly employed in Michelin in my constituency.

“There has been not as much as a squeak from the front bench, not a statement, not a press release, quite frankly, naff all.

“It bothers me that a convention appears to be arising in this House that Northern Ireland has become once again a place apart, where ministers think because there’s a devolved institution they have no responsibility to, with urgency, get to that despatch box and issue statements about important matters that affect 860 people in Northern Ireland.”

He sought assurances from Speaker John Bercow that such a situation will not be allowed to arise.

Mr Bercow replied: “I hope no such convention has arisen. Suffice it to say, without going into matters which shouldn’t be raised on the floor of the House, there are sometimes competitions for time in the House.”

He noted this included Home Secretary Theresa May needing to make a statement on new surveillance powers.

Mr Bercow hinted Mr Paisley would be able to ensure the issue is raised in the Commons if he or others want to pursue the matter.