Political representatives of all hues have been reacting to the news that Michelin Tyres in Ballymena is to close with the loss of 860 jobs - many belonging to people from Ballymoney and Moyle.
North Antrim MP IAn Paisley said: “The sad news today that Michelin will close its doors in North Antrim in 2018 is apocalyptic in terms of employment for my constituency.
“860 workers, in the jaws of Christmas, have received the news that they are now effectively on notice and my heart goes out to them at this time.
“It cannot be understated how big a blow this is to the manufacturing industry in Northern Ireland. For North Antrim this means the loss of millions of pounds of wages annually and is frankly hard tocome to terms with.
“The North Antrim factory has put up a valiant fight, but today they have bowed their head.”
Causeway Coast and Glens SDLP Councillor Margaret Anne McKillop said: “This is devastating news for communities throughout Antrim. Many people living in Ballycastle and the Glens work at the Michelin site and will now be facing huge uncertainty. It’s absolutely imperative that we see an urgent action plan developed to support those who face job losses and a long term strategy for rebuilding the local economy.”
TUV MLA for North Antrim Jim Allister said: “It is impossible to exaggerate the devastating blow that has fallen on North Antrim this morning with the announcement of the closure of the Michelin plant at Ballymena.
“My thoughts are with the hardworking employees who have received such devastating news today.
“Here since 1969 and employing 1100, Michelin is the backbone of our manufacturing industry in the area. With the pending departure of Gallahers, Michelin was the mainstay for high grade manufacturing jobs. Ballymena cannot sustain this second massive body blow.
“The complacency which arose from us having Gallahers and Michelin has left this constituency short changed in the import of new jobs.
“North Antrim must now become a priority for Invest NI. The job creating need in this constituency is now critical. Invest NI must make good its past failures.”
Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has said the news is “devastating for the local area”.
“The news that Michelin is being run down is devastating, not only to Ballymena but much further afield. This is yet another blow to the manufacturing sector in North Antrim.
“More than 800 workers and their families have been left in shock at this news just weeks before Christmas.
“The company needs to work closely with workers in the weeks and months ahead as they and their families face enormous challenges.
“The Enterprise Minister should immediately set out what his department’s plan of action is to ensure workers are offered retraining or upskilling to enable them to find further employment.
“I have tabled an urgent question to the Enterprise Minister asking him what he plans to do in conjunction with Executive colleagues to support these workers in the time ahead.”