Future of DVA workers must be made clear

13 05 2014

 SDLP Reps at DVA Rally

SDLP Assembly Member John Dallat has accompanied a NIPSA delegation to meet the Head of the Northern Civil Service, Dr Malcolm McKibbin, to discuss the future of DVA workers in Coleraine.

 Speaking after the meeting, Mr Dallat said:

 “Given that the DVA workers now know their computers will be closed down on 11 July, I regarded this meeting as crucial to understanding what is happening to the future of the 285 DVA workers who may find themselves in an intolerable situation where they will be coming to work for the next six months with nothing to do and no future to look forward to.  That simply isn’t acceptable.

 “I believe the case was put very robustly by the NIPSA representatives and I was happy to endorse their accounts of shattered morale, a feeling of being let down by the DVLA in Swansea and no support from the government at Westminster.  I regret that no other party political representatives were able to attend to emphasise the high level of solidarity that exists for these workers but I will endeavour to keep them informed.

 “Obviously I will monitor closely any progress made by the Northern Ireland Civil Service to absorb as many of these jobs as possible. I look forward to a report from them being placed before the Assembly outlining what can be done to minimise the serious impact this closedown will have on the individuals and on the community as a whole.

 “I am pleased that the Minister for the Environment Mark H Durkan is working with the Minister for Finance and Personnel Simon Hamilton and hopefully the outcome of their involvement will influence the decisions that the Executive must take on 29 May when they next meet.

 “It is indeed ironic that the workers have been asked to work overtime which can’t be easy given the inevitable result of their endeavours.”

Relocation not an option for DVA workers

15 04 2014
SDLP Reps at DVA Rally
Government jobs should be transferred to Coleraine in a bid to offer local DVA employees the opportunity to work close to home as relocation to other parts of the north isn’t an option for them, says East Derry SDLP MLA John Dallat.

After meeting with SDLP Environment Minister Mark H Durkan today on the future of the DVA workers at County Hall, Coleraine, Mr Dallat says relocation isn’t practical for many of the employees, whose jobs are to be be transferred to Swansea.

Speaking after the Stormont meeting, Mr Dallat said: “The transfer of these jobs to Swansea isa disaster for the wider economy of the area where experience tells us many more jobs will be in jeopardy after such a massive pay-off at County Hall.

“Minister Durkan remains totally committed to the future of the DVA workers and is working closely with his executive colleagues and has received the full support of the First and Deputy First Minister who raised the plight of the DVA workers with the Prime Minister at an economic conference in Belfast in October last year. 

“However, Mr Durkan has no direct evidence of the degree to which the Prime Minister’s office was directly involved in the decision to centralise vehicle licensing in Swansea and that is disappointing but not surprising.

“Recent replies to written questions tabled by me show that there are few vacancies in government departments that match the needs of the majority of DVA workers and a critical decision needs to be made to transfer jobs to Coleraine.

“The emphasis must be on transferring jobs to Coleraine rather than transferring workers to other workplaces. 

“All elected representatives must see the bigger picture and the disaster looming if this crisis is not resolved by a local solution which protects not just the jobs at County Hall, but the stability of the wider community which hinges on the retention of public service jobs in Coleraine.”

Follow Scotland’s example on energy efficiency’

30 03 2014

 Energy Efficient Homes

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham is calling on the Assembly to follow the Scottish example an introduce a new energy efficiency standard which could save tenants an average of £210 per year on fuel bills.

Councilor Cunningham continued “The energy efficiency standard for social housing (EESSH) recently launched by the Scottish Government as a way to reduce energy consumption, fuel poverty and carbon emissions.”

“Rising fuel prices have pushed the issue of energy efficiency up the agenda; there is also a need to address fuel poverty.”

“Setting the standards will result in carbon savings and will reduce fuel bills for tenants whose homes don’t currently meet the standard.”

“The big issue for the Assembly is to make sure that there is funding available to ensure that the standards can be met and that all sources of funding, such as European Union grants are drawn down.”

Action needed to help DVA workers – Dallat

21 03 2014

SDLP Reps at DVA Rally

East Derry MLA John Dallat has told a rally in Coleraine supporting hundreds of DVA workers whose jobs will transfer to Swansea that Executive ministers must co-operate in a bid to bring  jobs to the town.

 After addressing the NIPSA rally in Coleraine this afternoon, Mr Dallat said: “I have been privileged to carry the trade union flag through the streets of Coleraine and stand in solidarity with workers who are prepared to challenge the haemorrhaging of public sectors jobs and say ‘enough is enough’.

 “I pay tribute to those workers who kept their campaign above party politics and followed the path of the Polish workers in Gdansk many years ago when they also said ‘enough is enough’ and transformed democracy in that part of the world.

 “I believe the DVA workers in Coleraine have set an example which will be emulated across the North that this callous campaign of haemorrhaging jobs out of Coleraine across the water must stop, and the opposite must happen. The workers have lit a beacon of hope for others who will find their jobs in jeopardy too if this Tory party dogma is to continue.

“The message of solidarity must be matched by one of hope; hope that the Assembly will act and ministers will co-operate to identify jobs that can be transferred to Coleraine to support those who will find they are either unemployed, or are facing long journeys to work that are not practical or worthwhile.”

Defend the DVA March and Rally

18 03 2014



Following the announcement that the Coalition Government is to proceed with the closure of all vehicle licensing offices in NI, Branch 230 which represents around 300 of the affected staff, have organised a march and rally in protest at the decision.  This is a huge blow to DVA staff in all 8 local offices and the impact will be particularly devastating for the local community in the Causeway Coast area and NIPSA is therefore asking all branches to make every effort to send representatives to the event.




SDLP Challenges David Cameron on DVA job losses

14 03 2014


SDLP Challenges David Cameron on DVA job losses The Prime Minister David Cameron will be challenged as to his involvement to order the closure of the DVA Centre in Coleraine. The issue was raised by SDLP European candidate and former Environment Minister Alex Attwood when he visited the workers on Friday to express solidarity with those who are now facing a very uncertain future. He said: “When the future of the DVA Centre in Coleraine became a major political issue the Prime Minister David Cameron gave an undertaking to the First and deputy First Ministers that the issue would be considered by his office at 10 Downing Street. “It must now be established if that undertaking was adhered to and if so did the Prime Minister give the nod to Minister Stephen Hammond before the axe was dropped on the jobs while local Ministers were out of the country. East Derry SDLP Assembly Member John Dallat who accompanied Mr Attwood also addressed the workers for a second day. Speaking afterwards he said: “There remains an unprecedented level of anger and let-down experienced and these workers haven’t slacked in their resolve to fight for their livelihood and their right to work in the public sector in Coleraine. “They made it clear that they are happy to accept different work and have no hang-ups about retraining but are determined to maintain the solidarity which has been a major feature of their campaign which brought them to Stormont and Westminster in their fight for their jobs. “My belief is that people are now at breaking point across the North and the Coleraine workers may well be the vanguard of opposition against the systematic centralisation of public sector jobs in Britain by a heartless Tory regime which has clearly forgotten the promises to assist in rebuilding our economy which was abandoned during the troubles. “The British Prime Minister David Cameron and his Minister Stephen Hammond together with the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers have forfeited any right to talk about their contribution to building a process when they have failed either by inaction, deafening silence or downright compliance with the uprooting of public sector jobs which are essential if the private sector is to recover. “Obviously there will be an opportunity to test the commitment of all the political parties when we raise the issue on the floor of the Assembly next week.”

DVA jobs announcement devastating for local people

13 03 2014

DVA Tax Disc 

SDLP East Derry MLA John Dallat has reacted to the British Government announcement that over 300 jobs will be lost at DVA in Coleraine. Speaking after hearing the news, Mr Dallat said: “There are no depths the British government will not stoop to when they want to offload bad news involving Northern Ireland. There are no limits to the disrespect they are prepared to show to civil servants who have served the public faithfully through the darkest days of the troubles and since. “This announcement was clearly planned when they knew Mark H Durkan the Minister for the Environment was on his way to America for the Saint Patrick’s Day events. They did it when they knew that just about everyone was away. “The workers are devastated, feel abandoned, let down and trampled upon. At the minute they have a very low opinion of what passes as democracy when every elected representative opposed the loss of over 300 jobs in Coleraine. “This decision demonstrates very clearly the low priority Northern Ireland has when it comes to decision-making and it calls into question the sincerity of the Tories when they claim they are on the side of rebuilding our economy and pointing to a better future for everyone. “The Secretary of State and others based in Westminster should hang their heads in shame for sitting on their hands when they should have been full-square behind the workers. They have made no contribution to those who have worked through the worst of times to build a new society. “In the days ahead we have to pick up the pieces, see what is available and hope that there is more than the advice offered to workers this morning which is to remind them of the availability of Welfare Support Services

County Hall Jobs situation getting desperate

9 03 2014


The situation the Driver Vehicle Agency (DVA) workers at County Hall, Coleraine find themselves in is becoming desperate and a dreadful example of how workers can be treated by government according to local SDLP MLA John Dallat.

“The consultation process is long gone, the countless representations have been made and the arguments have been won but there has been nothing but a wall of silence from Westminster where the fate of their workers will be decided. 

“This is totally unacceptable and is taking an awful toll on the 300 workers affected by the proposals to move the work to Swansea where there are already 6,000 employed.

“We know that the centralisation plan to date has been a disaster with millions of pounds paid out in overtime at the Welsh centre yet the technology is available to do all this in Coleraine if only there was the investment and the will.

“Every politician worth his or her salt should be banging on the door of the Secretary of State, the Ministers of State and the government ministers who are clearly dithering and dallying and demoralising the an entire workforce which needs the solidarity of everyone until common sense prevails. 

“One MP, presumably in a moment of weakness, has enquired about ‘Plan B’ when he should have been making it clear that there must be only one plan and that is to retain the centre at Coleraine.

“Common sense must surely tell every elected representative that Coleraine needs nothing more than investment and commitment from government to modernise it.   Surely it is the responsibility of all politicians to get the message across that centralising thousands of jobs in one centre and moving them from an economic blackspot is not the behaviour of a government with an eye on equality and justice.”

Moyle misses out on Social Investment Funding

20 02 2014

Funding Direction

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Donal Cunningham has expressed his disappointment that the Moyle area has missed out in the first tranche of funding from the Social Investment Fund.

Councillor Cunningham acknowledged good projects had received funding, but said Moyle had seen nothing from the Assembly Executive.

Cllr Cunningham said: “Almost three years after the £80 million fund was announced in March 2011 – an election year – this money lay unspent by OFMDFM before the first announcements of funding were made in February 2014 – another election year.

“While I accept and welcome the funding for some good projects in other areas, this does not disguise the folly of OFMDFM controlling the Social Investment Fund and the failure of the OFMDFM to deliver.

“The SDLP very much supports money going into areas of need, but the Social Investment Fund is, and continues to be, seen as a half-baked and ill-judged intervention.

“Moyle has seen nothing from the Assembly Executive. Moyle is part of a bigger “Northern” regional group, for which only one project in Coleraine received funding.

“In the face of Westminster cuts, investing wisely is more important than ever, and capital investment projects are the only effective way of stimulating the economy. Yet, despite rising unemployment and the struggle that faces many families, the Assembly Executive has failed to bring forward a single new investment project which would benefit Moyle. Investment is what is needed for the Moyle economy.”

Cameron’s plan paving way for erosion of social security benefits

3 10 2013


Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has responded to the British Government’s ‘work for benefits’ plan which David Cameron referred to in his speech at the Conservative Conference yesterday.

He said:

“The plans announced by the Prime Minister David Cameron regarding new conditions for the long-term jobless have worrying implications for people living in Northern Ireland

“The conditions being proposed include community work placements, daily visits to a job centre or taking part in compulsory training. Such proposals are overly onerous and are the latest in a long list of changes which the coalition hopes to roll out in the Welfare Reform Act.

“This latest step by the Conservatives is an attempt to penalise the unemployed rather than acknowledge the failings of the Government’s economic policies. This attitude towards those who have lost their job, young graduates and others who can’t secure work is disgraceful. The lack of empathy displayed by the Tories is quite breath-taking.

“The Welfare Reform Act and its provisions seem more and more to pave the way for the erosion of social security benefits which we in the SDLP have been warning about in the Assembly and at Westminster.”