Prime Minister David Cameron said increasing the number of privately owned employers in Northern Ireland was the way forward when he was challenged about plans to halve the size of the Revenue and Customs (HMRC) office in Londonderry.
Foyle MLA Mark Durkan challenged the Prime Minister about talking up his commitment to Northern Ireland whilst cuts and rationalisations were going on.
“The Prime Minister says that the G8 and his attendance at the investment conference advertised his commitment to Northern Ireland and its economy,” he said.
“However, his Whitehall is busy removing jobs from Northern Ireland in the Driver and Vehicle Agency and now also in Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, with the proposal to close offices in Newry and Enniskillen and halve the office in my constituency of Foyle,” he added.
He asked Mr Cameron how the removal of jobs contributes to balancing the economy in Northern Ireland.
Mr Cameron replied: “I understand why the honourable Gentleman makes his point. My honourable Friend the Exchequer Secretary will meet him to talk about the HMRC issues.”
He pointed out how employment in Northern Ireland has risen by 32,000 since the election.
He said: “He knows, as I do, that the real long-term answer for the economy in Northern Ireland is a private sector revival.
“The public sector is very large in Northern Ireland. We need more small and medium-sized enterprises and more investment in Northern Ireland, and we need those jobs to come, which is what the G8 and the investment conference were all about.”