Sinn Fein and DUP united by fear for Bom­bardier jobs

Irish Independent - Business Week - - BUSINESSWEEK - John Mulgrew

DUP leader Ar­lene Fos­ter and Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill have writ­ten to US vice-pres­i­dent Mike Pence over the “very grave eco­nomic threat” fac­ing Bom­bardier in North­ern Ire­land – which they warn could have reper­cus­sions for the peace process.

A comes amid a trade row be­tween the US and Canada which could have a se­ri­ous im­pact on Bom­bardier’s more than 4,000 work­ers in the North.

It cen­tres around an on­go­ing case, brought by US avi­a­tion gi­ant Boe­ing, that the sale of Bom­bardier’s aircraft, in par­tic­u­lar its flag­ship C Se­ries pas­sen­ger jets, are be­ing ‘sub­sidised’, in part, due to a $1bn bailout by the re­gional Que­bec gov­ern­ment.

A chal­lenge by air­line ri­val Boe­ing, if suc­cess­ful, could ef­fec­tively price-out and cut off Bom­bardier’s largest mar­ket, the US, and lead to hun­dreds of job losses.

It’s al­ready led to UK Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May speak­ing to US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump over her con­cerns. She’s also due to meet Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau next week.

Now, the lead­ers of North­ern Ire­land’s two largest par­ties have writ­ten to the White House to say that if Boe­ing’s case suc­ceeds “this would have se­ri­ous im­pli­ca­tions for the fu­ture of the C Se­ries aircraft and Bom­bardier’s Belfast op­er­a­tion”.

The let­ter says that “as the lead­ers of the two main po­lit­i­cal par­ties elected to the North­ern Ire­land As­sem­bly we are writ­ing to you to seek your as­sis­tance in ad­dress­ing a very grave eco­nomic threat fac­ing Bom­bardier in the re­gion”.

“Bom­bardier Belfast is our largest man­u­fac­turer, and a highly sig­nif­i­cant ex­porter and em­ployer in this re­gion,” the let­ter says.

“The value of its op­er­a­tions cov­ers an ex­ten­sive sup­ply chain. For a small econ­omy such as ours, the sig­nif­i­cance of the con­tri­bu­tion that Bom­bardier makes can­not be un­der­stated.

“The threat fac­ing us as a re­sult of the on­go­ing case is alarm­ing, and goes much wider than it may im­me­di­ately ap­pear.

“The se­cu­rity of our econ­omy has and con­tin­ues to be a cru­cial part of our ef­forts in de­liv­er­ing peace through pros­per­ity.

Mean­while, North­ern Ire­land Sec­re­tary James Bro­ken­shire has claimed the UK gov­ern­ment is “work­ing tire­lessly” to safe­guard Bom­bardier’s op­er­a­tions.

Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill

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