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Support package 'too late' as thousands set for redundancy

 Chancellor Rishi Sunak speaking at a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on Coronavirus (COVID-19). Picture by Matt Dunham/PA Wire
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE British Chancellor's £330 billion package of new covid-aid is "too little too late" for many business sectors in the north, where thousands of jobs are at imminent risk in sectors like hospitality, tourism and manufacturing.

Rishi Sunak revealed a series of business rates holidays, grants and loans for those in financial difficulty due to coronavirus, and stressed that more firepower will follow as the Cabinet signed off on emergency legislation.

But Northern Ireland may again miss out on the immediate benefits, with Stormont not due to meet until Wednesday and announce its own steps on Thursday.

"That's no good to us. It's far too late. We need reassurance right now, at teatime this St Patrick's night. Why aren't the lights on at Stormont this very minute?" Hospitality Ulster head Colin Neill told the Irish News.

"Loans are no good to us. They merely build up debt. I've had really good businessmen ringing me in tears today at the gravity of this situation.

"More than 1,000 more people in our industry will have lost their jobs by the time people read your paper in the morning," he warned.

And last night one of the north’s flagship manufacturers, Newry-based fit-out firm MJM Marine, started a consultation process which will result in a large number of redundancies among its 500 staff.

In a statement it said: "Despite taking highest level of precautions, decisions late last week across the world led to all but one of our dry dock projects being postponed indefinitely due to Covid-19."

A number of others, including Mallaghan Engineering in Dungannon, which makes airport ground support equipment, started the process to make staff redundant.

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