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"More needs to be done to tackle rising unemployment" Mitchel McLaughlin MLA

18 March, 2009

Commenting on the rising levels of unemployment, Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson ,Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) said that he believes that there is more that can be done to arrest the situation.   Speaking today Mr McLaughlin said:   “The most recent figures for unemployment has shown an increase of more than 18,500 (75.7%), over the last year being added to the unemployment register. That’s over 1,500 a month.    "I agree with The Enterprise Trade and Investment Minister, Arlene Forster, that there is no quick fix. But for example, if her party colleague, Gregory Campbell, would reverse his unilateral decision to axe the construction of a stadium at the Long Kesh site, it alone would provide over 2,000 construction jobs and a very significant number long-term service jobs.    “There are also questions to be answered by the banking sector about its committment to assisting the economic recovery.  Banks are not assisting local enterprise and individual business people quite as enthusiastically has they expect the taxpayer to help them.  Small to medium enterprises, despite providing over 90% of jobs in this economy, are finding it extremely difficult to access financial support through the banks.   “ In terms of enhancing capacity, I believe that there is a need for increased numbers of available apprenticeships and for retraining and upskilling opportunities for those who have been made redundant in order to be prepared for economic recovery.    "There are other factors that are inhibiting the Executive's ability to tackle the economic downturn such as the lack of fiscal powers. And I am of the firm belief that our longterm recovery will only be achieved through collaboration on an all-Ireland basis. “All these issues need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. While there may not be any quick fixes to our unemployment concerns, I believe that if we focus on the issues that we can influence we will hasten the recovery.With the right attitude and committment we can impact on the high levels of unemployment.”

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