A government consultation is proposing to move staff from the Downpatrick, Ballynahinch, Newcastle and Kilkeel offices to Newry, Lurgan and Armagh. Staff maintain this will mainly affect women with young families who will not be able to transfer to other workplaces. Administrative and social security officer grade staff are most affected.
Cllr Patrick Clarke stated: “I am very concerned that there is a proposal to move staff from Newcastle, Downpatrick, Ballynahinch and Kilkeel social security offices within Down District and South Down to other offices such as Newry, Lurgan and Armagh outside the District.
“It is an utter travesty that people are being faced with having to travel outside Down District most of which are women with young families and living in rural areas. Expecting people to travel to Newry, Lurgan and Armagh from their present jobs at social security offices within Down District makes no common sense.
“The decision by the Social Security Agency will affect offices in Newcastle and Ballynahinch as well as Downpatrick. It will ultimately have a detrimental effect on Down District and South Down.
“I think it is not reasonable to expect staff living in Down District to travel round journeys of up to 3-4 hours to work in Newry, Lurgan, or Armagh each day.”