The support of Hollywood actor Liam Neeson for the staff at the Michelin plant in Ballymena who have just been told about the site’s closure has come at a vital time insists the MP for the area Ian Paisley.
Neeson, himself from Ballymena, offered his sympathies to the hundreds affected and has urged the Northern Ireland Executive to use this devastating news as a springboard to get to work and make the prospect of the job losses as easy to bear as possible for the 860 staff set to lose their jobs by 2018.
Mr Paisley commented “Having this morning secured a debate in the House of Commons about the closure (scheduled for Tuesday 17th), the support of influential figures such as Liam will go a long way to keeping this awful news in the public eye.
In an interview with the Sun newspaper, the 63 year old ‘Taken’ star said “I know the Michelin bosses will do all they can to facilitate the workforce in this their hour of need and compensate them accordingly.”
Mr Paisley added “The closure and loss of 860 jobs in Northern Ireland is the equivalent of 25,000 jobs being lost in England, a catastrophic figure that the government must recognise in its devastating capacity.”
Mr Neeson concluded “All the more reason for the Executive in Northern Ireland to really get to work now and promote the province.

The sad news today that Michelin will close its doors in North Antrim in 2018 is apocalyptic in terms of employment for my constituency.
860 workers, in the jaws of Christmas, have received the news that they are now effectively on notice and my heart goes out to them at this time.
It cannot be overstated how big a blow this is to the manufacturing industry in Northern Ireland.
For North Antrim this means the loss of millions of pounds of wages annually and is frankly hard to come to terms with.
I understand that the announcement is part of a wider EU re-structuring by the company and anyone who has followed tyre manufacturing trends, as I have, will have noticed the impact that cheap Far Eastern imports have had on Goodyear and how over-capacity has resulted in re-structuring elsewhere.
The North Antrim factory has put up a valiant fight, but today they have bowed their head.
I have for several years campaigned for reduced energy costs to assist this company and I know that much work was done to assist them from central government.
But the re-structuring has not saved the North Antrim plant and frankly the UK operation, whilst they have cut off an arm today, I believe their ultimate survival is not certain. I have spoken with Michelin at some length and I have asked that those who are in position to be re-located to other plants, that this is offered.
That a most generous package will be put in place for them and that importantly I have secured from the Michelin Development Community Fund (MDCF), £5 million to assist the local community with new employment start-ups. This will go some way in creating fresh opportunities.
I have today tabled an urgent question in parliament and intend on raising this matter tomorrow (Wednesday).
This sees another massive blow to the manufacturing industry in North Antrim and my heart goes out to all those affected.

Ian Paisley MP has pledged his support to the ‘Every Child A Life Saver’ campaign set up as a joint initiative by St John’s Ambulance, The British Red Cross and the British Heart Foundation to campaign for First Aid training to be made compulsory in all Secondary Schools.
The campaign has been set up in advance of the 2nd reading of the Emergency First Aid Education Bill which is due to take place on the 20th November.
Speaking at the event Mr Paisley commented ‘The November debate is realistically the best opportunity for Emergency First Aid training to be made compulsory in our schools before the next General Election.’

Ian Paisley MP at the Every Child A Life Saver reception in Westminster this week.

Ian Paisley MP at the Every Child A Life Saver reception in Westminster this week.

Research has shown that 97% of UK 11-16 year olds agree that they should be taught emergency first aid in schools and believe it should be made compulsory.
The Bill, tabled by Teresa Pearce MP, would require secondary schools to give young people the skills and confidence to deal with a range of medical emergencies including cardiac arrests, heart attacks, choking, bleeding, asthma attacks, and seizures.

Mr Paisley added ‘80% of the 30,000 people who go in to cardiac arrest each year, do so outside of a hospital and less than one in ten survive. These statistics are very concerning and I am in no doubt that they would not be anywhere close to this if our young people knew first aid as standard. I believe that this bill going through is the most effective way of ensuring our young people receive the training that they quite clearly wish to undertake.’
For more information about the Every a Child A Life Saver campaign please contact the British Red Cross on 0344 8711111

Congratulations Khayber!

October 29, 2015

The Khayber restaurant in Ballymena were this week the highest placed Northern Ireland entry to the Tiffin Cup in Westminster.
Having been nominated by North Antrim MP Ian Paisley, the restaurant made it to the final of the event, which involved a ‘cook-off’ in the Houses of Parliament. There were 10 finalists to make it through the judging panel to compete in the charity event’s finale in Westminster, judged by celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott.
The Khayber, represented by head chef Jayenbra Kaintura, were the highest placed Northern Ireland entry to the competition and finished 5th in the whole of the UK.

Ian Paisley with Khayber Restaurant chef Jayenbra Kaintura at the Tiffin Cup final in London

Ian Paisley with Khayber Restaurant chef Jayenbra Kaintura at the Tiffin Cup final in London

Speaking at the finals, the DUP MP commented “I knew the Khayber would be a strong competitor in this competition as I am personally a great fan of their food. Having passed the ‘secret shopper’ assessment of the judging panel during the summer, they successfully qualified for the finals night in London.”

“This is a wonderful and richly deserved achievement and I hope it will undoubtedly help the restaurant grow their reputation as a great choice of Indian cuisine”
The Tiffin Cup, is a charity event hosted by Keith Vaz MP and is now in its 7th year. There were over 150 restaurants entered in this year’s competition from right across the United Kingdom.

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley has welcomed the arrest made by the PSNI in relation to the TalkTalk hacking attack. The DUP MP received a briefing today from police in relation to the TalkTalk security breach and he said

‘The type of attack suffered by TalkTalk once again highlights the significant danger that cybercrime poses and the impact that it can have on the community. Virtually every household will have banking or other personal information stored by companies on computer systems and should those systems be compromised it can leave people vulnerable to a range of crimes.

I welcome that the PSNI have secured evidence and been able to make this arrest. I know that in this instance they are working hand in hand with the Metropolitan police as they investigate a crime which has caused concern to people right across the United Kingdom.

I will be meeting with police again to seek updates on the progress of the investigation.’

The Keep Me Posted group have received a boost from Ian Paisley MP for North Antrim, who has backed the campaign to give consumers the right to choose, without disadvantage, how they are contacted by banks and financial service companies, utility companies, and other service providers.

The North Antrim MP sponsored a drop-in session for the campaign in parliament this week. He met with Judith Donovan CBE, who chairs Keep Me Posted, to hear more about the campaign and to offer support. He has previously signed an Early Day Motion backing the campaign in the House of Commons.

Keep Me Posted is a partnership of more than 80 representatives from charities, interest groups and businesses including Age UK, National Consumer Federation, Salvation Army, Esther Rantzen’s Silver Line and the Institute of Consumer Affairs, who are increasingly concerned about the growing trend towards online-only bills and statements and the impact this is having on people’s ability to effectively manage their finances.

The campaign’s research has shown that people understand their finances better and make better financial decisions when they receive information on paper, rather than online*. This week’s report from leading digital charity Go On UK also highlighted that in parts of the UK, one in three adults do not have the basic digital skills needed to effectively manage financial affairs online.

The UK already lags behind other countries such as Spain, France, Germany and Finland, where the right for consumers to receive free paper bills and statements is enshrined in law.

Ian Paisley MP with Judith Donovan CBE, Chair of the Keep Me Posted campaign at their Westminster drop-in event this week.

Ian Paisley MP with Judith Donovan CBE, Chair of the Keep Me Posted campaign at their Westminster drop-in event this week.

Mr Paisley said “It is important that my constituents are able to choose how they receive important financial information from service providers including banks and utility companies. The statistics show that so many people cannot use the internet to manage their financial affairs – including 56,000 in the north coast of Northern Ireland alone – either because they don’t want to, don’t have the online skills, cannot afford computers or broadband, or find it difficult due to health conditions. These consumers should not then be penalised by having to pay to keep their paper bills and statements.”

Judith Donovan CBE, who chairs Keep Me Posted, said, “I am grateful to Ian Paisley MP for giving us the time to support the campaign today, and for fighting for the right of his constituents to have the choice of a paper bill or statement.”

Mr Paisley concluded “It was a privilege to host this event as I believe it to be a truly worthy cause that stands up for those who are losing out and indeed losing money due to certain technological advantages, often through no fault of their own.”

You can sign up to the Keep Me Posted campaign yourself by calling 020 7566 9773, writing to Keep Me Posted, 24a St John’s Street London EC4P 4DZ or sharing your stories, preferences and experiences at www.keepmeposted.uk.com.

Ian Paisley MP met with Police Federation for Northern Ireland Chairman Mark Lindsay in Westminster yesterday to discuss the findings of the independent review that was carried out on behalf of the Police Federation on staff morale.

Ian Paisley MP meeting with Mark Lindsay of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland in Westminster yesterday

Ian Paisley MP meeting with Mark Lindsay of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland in Westminster yesterday

Mr Paisley commented “The results of the review were certainly alarming, but perhaps more worryingly, they weren’t overly surprising. The pressure continues to mount on police forces right across the United Kingdom are undoubtedly feeling the pinch of cutbacks, but with the PSNI having the dissident republican threat looming over their heads as well, it is little wonder that morale is at such a low.
In light of this report being published, now is the time for our Policing Board and Justice Department to push for a review of the current system and set out clearly what must be done to address its very concerning conclusions.”

Persecuted and Forgotten

October 16, 2015

Ian Paisley MP this week attended the launch of the ‘Persecuted and Forgotten’ report on the global persecution of Christians. It looks at the worldwide persecution and genocide of millions of Christians across the world.

The MP has called for the government to act following the release of this report.

“It is inherently wrong that our government continue to grant foreign aid to so many of the nations where these atrocities against the Christian faith are being carried out. Pakistan, one of the nations where such persecution is at its highest, is set to be gifted over £370 million in aid this year alone.”

Since the rise of ISIS and the brutal ‘convert or die’ regime they have conducted has come to the forefront of our media, there has been increasing pressure on our government to intervene. Whether that involves military intervention or not is of course the biggest debate going on at present. But we must explore other avenues such as re-assessing where our foreign aid is being directed if we are to defeat this wave of anti-Christian terror.”

In the audience was a Chaldean Priest Fr Bazi who had been imprisoned by ISIS. He was beaten with hammers, tortured, had his back broken but refused to beg for his life telling them he believed in an afterlife and therefore was not afraid. He said that fleeing Christians couldn’t even go to refugee camps because they faced persecution from the Muslim majority in the camps.

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson added “It is important that our government, other governments and the UN put pressure on those countries which close their eyes to the persecution of Christians in their midst or in some cases sponsor it.”

Mr Paisley concluded “The right to practise religion freely across this world is at the heart of democracy and preventing one from doing so is a direct and absolute violation of one’s Human Rights. This government, the European Union and the United Nations must all step up their efforts to combat this horrendous persecution”

The DUP were the first party in the House of Commons to hold a debate on the persecution of Christians over five years ago.

In a House of Commons vote this week the DUP MPs backed the government’s plan to eliminate the budget deficit by 2019 and to commit to surpluses in the budget when economic circumstances are normal.

The DUP’s Treasury spokesman Sammy Wilson said that “While all the parties in the House of Commons apart from the Green party agreed that the deficit on public finances had to be tackled, none were prepared to say how or when. In fact during the debate all we got were a list of reasons why it could not be tackled and a list of things that opposition parties wished to spend money on.”

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley commented “It is simply not manageable to continue running up these endless deficits in denial that this debt is becoming an unworkable burden.”

“It would also not be right for the economic recovery of the coming years to simply be used to repair the damage our generation have caused. That growth needs to be used to develop the United Kingdom for our young people. Only with a structured plan of how to meet and indeed go beyond the targets that we as a parliament set, can we ever look to achieve them.”

East Antrim MP Mr Wilson also commented “The arguments against the commitment to bring our deficit down and start paying off debt by 2019 are shallow and contradictory. If this is, as some are claiming, a gimmick, then the Chancellor will soon be caught out since clear benchmarks have been set.”

“One thing is certain it cannot be argued it is a gimmick and then in the same breath argue it will wreck the economy by imposing a fiscal straight jacket.”

There is still a degree of financial flexibility within this deficit reduction proposal as the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will still have the ability to respond to economic shocks, providing he explains what he wishes to do and how he intends to get back on course to a budget surplus.

Mr Paisley added “What we can’t have is the schizophrenic approach adopted by the labour party of declaring that it wishes to deal with the deficit but only proposed more public spending, or far worse the position expressed by the Green Party that we should “continue to borrow until we can’t afford to pay back!”

“Secondly it does not tie parties like our own into supporting every government financial proposition. Parties can still challenge the individual ways which the government seeks to use to achieve its target and put forward their own ideas.”

He concluded “Our backing the government on this issue does not in any way guarantee our support to them on ‘all things fiscal’. We will always vote in the manner that will secure the best deal for the people of Northern Ireland, regardless of whether that involves voting with or against the government on any given issue.”

The eight DUP MPs met with the Defence Minister this week to discuss the Strategic Review of the Defence Budget.

In keeping with the DUP manifesto, they urged the Minister to ensure that the commitment to spend 2% of GDP on the defence budget was adhered to in order to ensure that the new threats from Russia and ISIS were capable of being responded to.

MP Ian Paisley commented “One of the main points of discussion was of course the UK’s nuclear deterrents. The Trident programme is undoubtedly a costly one to run, but the role it has played in keeping post-war Britain safe cannot be understated. We asserted our support for the programme and will continue to do so.”

Also discussed was the downsizing of all three areas of the armed forces and the potential impact this could have on those who remain. “The workload of our armed servicemen and women is already very stretched off the back of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. How we protect our returning servicemen and women and how the new structures are phased in is imperative to the health and wellbeing of our troops” said Mr Paisley.

The Military Covenant, which is of course not yet fully operational in Northern Ireland was another area of discussion. The group pushed the Minister to continue to work to see this implemented sooner rather than later.

“From a business perspective we also emphasised how strongly we felt about preserving the level of industry that some of Northern Ireland’s biggest companies procure through MoD orders and purchasing. We encouraged the Minister to strongly consider Northern Ireland businesses and what they have to offer before looking further afield when considering future investments” said the North Antrim MP.

East Antrim’s Sammy Wilson added “The DUP is fortunate to have a member on the Defence Select Committee and Jim Shannon, who is our serving member, along with the rest of the MP team will ensure that the views of the people of N.I who, through experience, know the value of effective armed services, are heard in Westminster. Northern Ireland contributes to the defence needs of the UK with the highest recruitment to the reserve forces of any region and we welcome the commitment given to lifting the cap on recruitment so that those in the province who wish to volunteer will be able to do so.”