Northern Ireland news

State papers: Mackies issue raised by Irish government

Mackie International Factory in west Belfast
Éamon Phoenix

THE question of Catholic employment at Mackies engineering plant in west Belfast was raised by the Irish government in 1986.

It was raised at the Intergovernmental Conference established under the Anglo-Irish Agreement, according to newly released state papers.

Ronnie Spence of Stormont's Central Secretariat wrote to colleague David Fell on January 23, 1986.

He asked "what they might say to the Irish" about reports that Mackies was considering closing their main factory on the Springfield Road and relocating to the Shankill-Woodvale area.

"The implication behind the Irish request was that such relocation might result in a reduction of job opportunities for Catholics," he said.

Spence noted that Mackies had recently laid off 400 of its 1,400 workforce due to trading difficulties and needed to review its operation.

He told Fell: "In advising the Irish we can say that Mackies' workforce currently includes 20 per cent to 30 per cent Catholics" and that everyone involved was aware "that relocation might be perceived by the Catholic workforce as being to their disadvantage".

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