Northern Ireland Protocol has helped to create 1,000 new jobs – Michelle O’Neill

Northern Ireland Protocol has helped to create 1,000 new jobs – Michelle O’Neill
Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill (Liam McBurney/PA)

Michelle O’Neill has credited the Northern Ireland Protocol with helping to deliver the announcement of 1,000 new jobs for the region.

The Almac Group, the Craigavon-based pharmaceutical development and manufacturing company, is to recruit 1,800 staff across its global footprint in the next three years, 1,000 of which will be in Northern Ireland.

Ms O’Neill said the development was evidence of the benefits of the dual access the protocol offers Northern Ireland manufacturers to sell without restrictions in the UK internal market and the EU single market.

On its website, Almac, which last year was involved in the clinical trials for Covid-19 vaccines, promotes the “seamless, uninterrupted and flexible” dual market access it enjoys as a result of the protocol.

Diane Dodds said she welcomed the opportunities the announcement would bring (Liam McBurney/PA)

Ms O’Neill said the announcement had provided a much-needed boost to the local economy.

“The Almac announcement today is a very positive announcement in what is quite a challenging time for our economy because of the pandemic and because of the outworking of Brexit,” she said.

“So I think it’s very clear from the Almac statement today that they are benefiting from the protocol that they’re able to announce over 1,000 jobs to be created here. That’s a huge boost for us. So I very much welcome that.

“But that’s what the protocol does for us, it actually gives us that opportunity to have access to both markets.

“And Almac is a really good case in point of how it actually is working. So let’s find solutions and let’s create stability. Let’s have more announcements like the Almac announcement.”

The DUP also welcomed the jobs boost but did not reference the protocol as a factor.

Upper Bann MLA Diane Dodds said: “This investment is significant for the Upper Bann area. It’s encouraging to see local businesses expanding and providing job opportunities for local graduates and workers across Northern Ireland.

“We are proud to have a world-leading company on our doorstep. Almac has played a significant role in the development of the Covid-19 vaccine and many other lifesaving medicines. I welcome the opportunities that this announcement will bring to many young graduates.”

The new jobs include operational, supervisory and managerial roles with opportunities for both graduates and experienced candidates.

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