Monday 23 October 2017

Sinn Fein and DUP united by fear for Bombardier jobs

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill
Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill

John Mulgrew

DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill have written to US vice-president Mike Pence over the "very grave economic threat" facing Bombardier in Northern Ireland - which they warn could have repercussions for the peace process.

A comes amid a trade row between the US and Canada which could have a serious impact on Bombardier's more than 4,000 workers in the North.

It centres around an ongoing case, brought by US aviation giant Boeing, that the sale of Bombardier's aircraft, in particular its flagship C Series passenger jets, are being 'subsidised', in part, due to a $1bn bailout by the regional Quebec government.

A challenge by airline rival Boeing, if successful, could effectively price-out and cut off Bombardier's largest market, the US, and lead to hundreds of job losses.

It's already led to UK Prime Minister Theresa May speaking to US President Donald Trump over her concerns. She's also due to meet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau next week.

Now, the leaders of Northern Ireland's two largest parties have written to the White House to say that if Boeing's case succeeds "this would have serious implications for the future of the C Series aircraft and Bombardier's Belfast operation".

The letter says that "as the leaders of the two main political parties elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly we are writing to you to seek your assistance in addressing a very grave economic threat facing Bombardier in the region".

"Bombardier Belfast is our largest manufacturer, and a highly significant exporter and employer in this region," the letter says.

"The value of its operations covers an extensive supply chain. For a small economy such as ours, the significance of the contribution that Bombardier makes cannot be understated.

"The threat facing us as a result of the ongoing case is alarming, and goes much wider than it may immediately appear.

"The security of our economy has and continues to be a crucial part of our efforts in delivering peace through prosperity.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire has claimed the UK government is "working tirelessly" to safeguard Bombardier's operations.

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