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.”

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.”

Dallat pays tribute to “Outstanding” Irish Coastguards

11 03 2013


SDLP East Derry MLA John Dallat will address members of the Irish Coastguard today at Stormont as well as Minister of State for Northern Ireland Mike Penning.
Mr. Dallat will say:
“It is a privilege and an honour for me to welcome members of the Irish Coastguard to Stormont and also to welcome the Right Honourable Mike Penning, Minister of State and Sector Manager Mr Gordon Monroe of H M Coastguards based at Bangor who have joined them.

“After I was elected to Coleraine Borough Council I became very aware that the Malin Head Coastguards play a critical part in sea rescue co-ordination in Northern Ireland and in particular along the Causeway Coast. In more recent years the Irish Coastguards have been an important feature of the Portrush Air Show.

“On Sunday I spoke to Finbar O’Connor a retired senior officer at Malin Head and he told me with great fondness of his time working with the coastguards in Belfast he told me:

‘On a personal note, I can say with ultimate sincerity that my strongest and fondest memories of working with Belfast CG and all those involved in marine rescue in Northern Ireland, was of seamless co-operation, always done in a spirit of being willing to go the extra mile, for a common, shared, successful outcome.’

“The idea for this visit is my way of saying thanks that the coastguard station at Malin Head has been spared from closure and it has been my privilege as a public representative to attend public meetings in the Community Centre at Malin Head and to give evidence, along with my colleagues Councillors Maura Hickey and Orla Beattie, to the Transport Committee in Dail Eireann.

“During that time I became aware that when the future of the coastguard station at Bangor was in doubt the Minister of State Mike Penning was Minister for Transport in Westminster and played a critical role in saving that station from closure. That was a good decision supported by this assembly and one of the arguments in favour was its special relationship with the Irish Coastguards and Malin Head in particular.

“I wish to thank Mr Penning for his support for our guests while he was in Dublin last November. I feel sure that his support and that of my colleagues played a critical role in the decision of the Minister for Transport in the Dublin Government Mr Leo Varadkar changing his mind about closing Malin Head, the oldest coastguard station in Ireland.

“However, I wish this day could be one of outright celebration but while I remain optimistic about the future I am aware that there are discussions taking place as we speak that I believe don’t address the bigger picture and the importance of the Coastguards at Malin Head as key to the future of this very special emergency service responsible for saving hundreds of lives year in year out.

“Four times in eleven years the future of Malin Head Coastguards has been in doubt and that must stop and we must move on. Talking about rationalisation while failing to recognise the very special partnership that exists between our coastguard services is wrong and I hope this visit today highlights the importance of maintaining and building that very special relationship which has been responsible for saving thousands of lives over the years particularly during the worst days of the troubles when cross-border co-operation was difficult.

“Malin Head, as the most northerly part of this island is not only beautiful, it is strategic to future planning not just for local emergencies but for the ever-increasing risk of sea pollution, emergency planning and fighting crime on the high seas. It is vital to beating the drug barons who would saturate this island with their deadly products was it not for the eyes and ears of the coastguards.

“The coastguard service is not a ‘Get You Home Car Breakdown Service’. It is unrealistic and unwise to centralise the coastguards in an industrial estate in Dublin if that is the plan and I hope it is not. It is a major mistake to think that the years of experience and knowledge of local coastguards and the special relationship they have built up with the RNLI and other voluntary rescue services can be dispensed with. They cannot and that should be central to any discussions about the future.

“I am grateful that the Irish Coastguards are in Stormont today and I hope their presence will encourage my colleagues from all parties to be more aware of the crucial role they play in saving lives of our citizens not just along the Causeway Coast but in many parts of Northern Ireland where their familiar red helicopters can be seen rescuing people whether in the sea, on the mountains or the rivers and lakes.”

Dallat calls for more resources for Causeway A & E

11 03 2013

Causeway Hospital 2

SDLP East Derry MLA John Dallat has described an ‘escalation plan’ to deal with a crisis at the Causeway Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department at the weekend as hopelessly inadequate.

 Mr Dallat said:

 “I have no doubt the A and E Department at the Causeway Hospital experienced unprecedented pressures in recent days leading to patients lying on trolleys and in pain for unacceptable periods of time.

 “The staff coping in these pressurised conditions deserve our admiration and support. Nevertheless it is unacceptable that the service was reportedly near to breaking point at least for those lying on the trolleys two to a bay.

 “These reports do not reflect accurately the very high standards of care in the hospital generally and certainly underline the sheer madness of transferring any element of A and E to Antrim Hospital which is also experiencing pressures on A and E.

 “I have asked the Northern Health Trust for a full report on why the service experienced difficulties which it quite clearly failed to cope with. I have also arranged a meeting with the Chief Executive which will take place later in the month.”

John Dallat’s contribution to “Ballycastle Hotel” Assembly debate

17 03 2012

Members may wonder why somebody from County Derry is taking part in this adjournment debate, but I remind them that Ballycastle is synonymous with the name Dallat. My eldest son was very fortunate to meet a Ballycastle girl, and he lives there. As grandparents, we look forward to visiting Ballycastle on a Sunday, and we have a closer-range experience of the town’s uniqueness.
One thing that has always struck me about Ballycastle, having represented Coleraine for over 30 years where tourism is a big thing, is the absence of an hotel. Having listened to the debate this evening, I will not get drawn into the quagmire of politics. We have been very critical of the media because of its negativity to the Assembly, but, my goodness, having heard some of the statements this evening, we do not need the media.
Of course, we welcome the proposed 120-bed hotel development at Whitepark. My party was very much involved in the creation of the Marine Hotel. I do not know the circumstances of why it is not functioning, but that is a matter of regret. Certainly, the SDLP was involved in promoting tourism in Ballycastle and elsewhere when it was fashionable for some to blow up hotels, but that is in the past.
We had some references to guest houses and so on, and they are, of course, the backbone. However, let us face it: any town of any significance needs a hotel for conferences and other activities. We heard that the Marine Hotel in Ballycastle was used by the Orange Order, the Young Farmers’ Club and the GAA and for funeral dinners, and I have been to funeral dinners there. However, I know from my involvement in Coleraine that a million other things can happen in a hotel.
My colleague Councillor Dónal Cunningham told me in an e-mail just this morning that the local economy needs people to stay overnight. That was the main problem we had in the Causeway in Coleraine as well: creating the incentive for people to spend bed nights in the hotel. So, there is no need to apologize for asking the Tourist Board, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment — I am delighted that the Minister is here — Invest Northern Ireland and any other relevant organisation to promote and help with the creation of the bed nights that are badly needed in Ballycastle, which, of course, is the gateway to the glens of Antrim.
There has been a lot of hype about the Irish Open coming here. I spent yesterday in Portrush and Portstewart with the Minister, who was doing her utmost to promote the area in order to ensure that that opportunity is not missed. There are several other new items on the tourist agenda this year such as the Titanic project, as well as the Milk Cup and the North West 200, the benefits of which spin out into Ballycastle and the surrounding areas. I know from experience that the North West 200 brings people back time and time again. Even during the worst of the Troubles, relationships were formed between people from here and people from England, Scotland and other places. So it is a serious business.
As I say, my heart is in the Sperrins, but I absolutely love the glens of Antrim. I will finish up by entertaining you with a little poem, ‘The Nine Glens of Antrim’:
“There are nine Glens in Antrim, Nine great glens in all; Glenarm is the first one And near Cushendall There’s lovely Glenariff, Glenaan and Glendun And nestling between them Glenballyemon, Glencorp and Glenshesk Come on, don’t be lazy There’s only Glencloy and the last one, Glentaisie.”
My colleagues from North Antrim, for goodness sake, put your full weight behind the issue, back it 100% and make it a success.