Local political representatives have voiced their concerns following news that the Caterpillar plant in Monkstown is set to close.
Cllr Stephen Ross described the move as “disappointing”. Speaking to the Times, the DUP representative said: “A lot of the staff who are going to be losing their jobs live in Monkstown and the surrounding area. Manufacturing jobs are being taken out of Newtownabbey, as well as across east and south Antrim, and this is devastating for the region.
“We now have a lot of people who have apprenticeships or who are still to complete their apprenticeships without a place to work. Some people have claimed the decision to close the site is a result of the UK leaving the EU. This has nothing to do with Brexit. This is a result of world economics and the downturn in mining and oil extraction, as well as a drop in need.
“Stormont seriously needs to look into strategies to safeguard future jobs in the manufacturing and construction industries.”
Cllr Ben Kelso has said there is a lot of uncertainty in the community surrounding job security. The UUP representative said: “The decision to close the Monkstown plant is upsetting for everyone involved. It will not just affect people in Monkstown, but across south and east Antrim also. The Stormont Assembly must look at ways in which jobs can be safeguarded.”
Ald Tom Campbell has branded the closure “a shocking decision.” The Alliance Party representative said: “This decision to close the Monkstown plant will have a devastating impact on the local community with the loss of so many jobs. A lot of homes will be extremely affected by this for some time.”
PUP representative, Darren Logan, said that the decision to close the Doagh Road facility will have a knock on affect for other businesses in the area.
He said: “This is devastating news for the region. There are a large number of local people employed at the Caterpillar sites in Monkstown and Larne. These are skilled people. What now can be done to get them employed?
“Other businesses in the area may now suffer due to this closure. I would ask the council to address the issue of rates and possibly consider a reduced cost to business owners in Newtownabbey, as small-business owners may face increased strain as a result of the Caterpillar closure. A major overhaul of the infrastructure is needed to attract companies to the area or this will only continue.”