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Maskey lambasts hypocrisy of Irish Government Minister

29 April, 2005

Sinn Féin MLA and South Belfast Westminster candidate Alex Maskey today hit out at the refusal of an Irish Government Minister to meet with former workers of Irish semi-state subsidiary Richardson's IFI. Alex Maskey was speaking after Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mícheál Martin T.D. stated that he did not believe it was appropriate for him to meet with the former workers at Richardsons.

"The Irish Government was the largest shareholder in Richardsons IFI. The workers at Richardsons received inferior severance packages to their counterparts in the plants in the South which closed at the same time. These workers are dismayed at the way the Irish Government has treated them since the plant's closure. Both the former Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Harney and the current Minister have washed their hands of these workers.

"Sinn Féin wrote to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mícheál Martin a number of months ago seeking a meeting on behalf of the former worker at Richardson IFI to discuss the situation which they have found themselves in since the closure of the plant. When this did not succeed we put down a Dáil question to ascertain whether Mícheál Martin was willing to meet the workers. In a reply received by my colleague Sinn Féin T.D. Arthur Morgan on the 20th April, the Minister stated clearly that he would not meet the workers as he did not believe this would be appropriate.

"How exactly is it inappropriate for an Irish Government Minister to meet workers of a company of which they were the major shareholder while other Irish Government Ministers see fit to come North to electioneer? I have spoken to workers who are both angry and dismayed that Irish Government Minister Mícheál Martin is refusing to meet them while his cabinet colleague Michael McDowell can visit this constituency where many of these workers live to bolster somebody's election campaign. It is gross hypocrisy and unacceptable." ENDS

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