Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 58 - 59)




  58. Good afternoon. Thank you for coming. Would you like to make any opening remarks before we start to question you?

  (Mr Doran) It might be helpful if I made some very broad remarks in the context of the questions which have been asked in the Quarry Products Association area. One of your questions was on the general context of the industry in Northern Ireland at present and what is happening. Very briefly, in mid 1996 construction output as a whole in the Province was sitting on a Government index at about 105. The first quarter of this year finished at 125. Leaving aside the mathematics, crudely an increase of about 20 per cent in total output. Employment during that period has gone up from 27,000 to about 35,000, an increase of about 33 per cent. Unemployment has gone down during that period from about 15,000 to 4,000. Construction activity has added greatly to employment, to reducing the significant effect of unemployment in areas of social need. A recent study carried out by the department responsible for employment and learning as to the areas in which construction employment had increased most significantly covered areas such as Moyle, Strabane and Fermanagh where construction employment had increased at over 100 per cent on average in those areas. It has been a significant success story in the recent past. However, the latest state of play according to my Federation which represents the construction industry, the contractors, the builders, the civil engineers as well as some suppliers, has shown that in the last six months new orders have dropped by one third in Northern Ireland. There has been a significant downturn in new orders. Therefore the effect at the margin of quarry tax and higher costs could have a significant effect on the industry as a whole.

  59. So the current state is not as healthy as it might be.
  (Mr Doran) Sadly there has been a significant short-term downturn in demand.

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