Sinn Féin MLA, Cathal Boylan, spoke in the Assembly on Tuesday 21st on a motion on the Bain Report. The motion was specific to Cookstown, Downpatrick and Enniskillen, but the local Assembly member took the opportunity to speak about the situation in Armagh City.
During the debate Cathal said;
"The original motion refers to three specific towns which are mentioned in the Bain Report. I make no apologies for speaking today in a parochial manner.
"For while the report at least acknowledged the aforementioned towns, I, along with all MLAs who represent the constituency were disappointed that Armagh City was not mentioned at all.
"The City of Armagh is unique in that it relies on public sector jobs to sustain its local economy.
"They are major employers in the city and surrounding area, Health, Education and the District Council are responsible for 985 jobs. The properties in which they are housed, many of which are historically significant buildings of unique architecture, account for almost £400 thousand pounds of rates contribution.'
"Armagh has no major private business which caters for hundreds of employees. Small firms which have fewer than 50 employees account for 99.1% of all employment.
"There is no major retail development compared to near neighbours Craigavon and Newry. Neither is there any major foreign investment strategy.
"Failure to retain or replace public sector jobs in Armagh would be a disaster for the City and District.
"The motion mentions the need for infrastructure. Can I remind the chamber that the Minister for Regional Development recently announced the proposal for a link road in the city which will allow for welcome relief and ease of movement in and around the City.
"The Bain Report is to be welcomed. There is a need to relocate a number of public sector jobs outside of Belfast. It would though, defeat the purpose to relocate jobs from towns and cities like Armagh, when the local economy is so reliant on those same jobs.'
"Recently, as I have already mentioned, all MLA's from the constituency - from all parties - signed a letter to be sent to OFMDFM asking that special consideration be given to include Armagh in the Bain Report.
"Such is the seriousness of the situation, recognised by all; If Armagh were to be stripped completely of all public sector jobs."
The Sinn Fein representative concluded;
"I have already stated; I will not be apologetic for being parochial on this issue. I can understand the members who brought the motion wishing to fight the corner for their local constituencies - and I am fighting the corner for Armagh.
"They have given me the opportunity to highlight a serious problem - I hope the members in the chamber will agree, as their colleagues in the constituency agreed, that it is an issue that deserves to be highlighted." ENDS