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Sinn Féin meets with INI over AnswerCall Direct

15 September, 2003

Sinn Fein Economy Spokesperson and Upper Bann representative Dr Dara O'Hagan, along with Craigavon Council Group Leader, Cllr John O'Dowd, met with Invest NI over the relocation of AnswerCall Direct from the Garvaghy Road in Portadown to Armagh and the loss of around 50 jobs at its Armagh call centre.

Commenting after the meeting Dr O'Hagan said:

"Sinn Féin requested the meeting with INI as a matter of urgency after it emerged that on top of the relocation from its Garvaghy Rd operation announced at the beginning of last week, around 50 employees at its Armagh Call centre were also informed that their employment had been terminated.

"The latest revelation of these job losses, on top of its loss to the Portadown area, is a matter of huge concern. In April this year AnswerCall Direct received £2.8 million in financial support from Invest NI for its Armagh operation. This was in addition to receiving £360,400 from INI'spredecessor, the IDB, in September 2001 when it moved into the Mayfair Business Centre on the Garvaghy Road.

"While I appreciate the difficulties in the ICT sector and the unstable nature of the market, the fact remains that this company has received more than £3m of public money to create jobs in the Portadown and Armagh areas. To date the company is operating at under capacity. The relocation from Portadown and the job losses at the Armagh operation are further worrying developments.

"This adds to the growing concern that companies, and call centre companies in particular, are taking advantage of the financial support on offer to set up in the north without firm commitments to long term investment.

"While today's meeting with INI proved useful and went some way to addressing the questions that Sinn Féin raised, this is a situation that we will be monitoring very closely." ENDS

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