Concerns over impact on staff due to DARD move

The Alliance Party’s East Belfast representatives have expressed their concerns about the impact on staff and the local economy over the proposed move of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Naomi Long MP, Chris Lyttle MLA and Judith Cochrane MLA were speaking after the Agriculture Minister announced the department would move from Dundonald House in East Belfast to Ballykelly in 2015. Approximately 800 staff will be affected by the move.

“This is undoubtedly a boost for much-needed development in the north-west region,” said Mrs Long.

“However, I am concerned at the potential impact for many of the staff working at the department, who may now be faced with an expensive daily commute or having to uproot from greater Belfast and relocate their families.”

Mr Lyttle said: “In the current economic climate, the ability for people to relocate will be limited and it will be difficult to secure alternative jobs for other family members who move with them.

“Although no staff members will be forced to move to the new location, in reality many will be left without any other option and I will be seeking assurances from the Minister on choices available to them.”

“This move will have a wide-ranging impact and the potential to incur more cost for the department, as they will be contractually obliged to meet relocation costs,” added Mrs Cochrane.

“It is important we get swift information on how staff will be affected by this announcement.”

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