SHOCK AT ALLIANCE MLA’S OPPOSITION TO JOBS BEING MOVED TO DERRY
Under Stormont proposals the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) is being moved to Ballykelly.
Stewart Dickson, an Alliance MLA who doesn’t even represent East Belfast (he’s an MLA for East Antrim, ridiculed the DUP for supporting the transfer of hundreds of civil service positions to the disused Shackleton Barracks.
Dickson tweeted today: “Why do DUP support SF (Sinn Féin) in wanting to take jobs out of East Belfast relocating DARD to Ballykelly.”
Later he tweeted – without a hint of irony: “Delighted to be chairing All Party Working Group on Social Enterprise.”
The tweet is already coming under fire this evening from people across the North West.
Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill confirmed six months ago that all of the £44m needed to the jobs transfer has been secured.
DARD has said around 700 posts will be relocated to the former Shackleton army barracks in two phases with 340 posts relocated by the end of 2017.
The department headquarters are currently based in Dundonald House in east Belfast.
The Ballykelly site was given free to the Northern Ireland Executive by the Ministry of Defence in 2011.
Building work is to be completed by late 2017.
The jobs move to County Derry follows a long-running dispute over the fact that Strabane had initially been prioritised as the best place for the new DARD HQ.
The decision not to go to the Tyrone town and move to Gregory Campbell’s East Derry constituency instead has never been satisfactorily explained.