Ulster textiles grant 'threatens UK jobs'

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A DELEGATION of industrialists yesterday warned the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Sir Patrick Mayhew, that government backing for a textiles plant threatened hundreds of jobs elsewhere in the UK.

The delegation, part of the Manufacturing & Construction Industries Alliance, said the Government should abandon plans to give a pounds 61m grant for the Northern Ireland project and called for greater consultation over state backing for inward investment.

Richard Gilmore, the group's director of corporate development, and Nicholas Winterton, the Conservative MP, led the delegation.

The pounds 157m plant, to be built by Hualon of Taiwan, would be the largest industrial investment in Northern Ireland since the failed De Lorean car project in the 1970s. It would create about 1,000 jobs in the next 10 years.

But the British textile industry says there is already overcapacity in the European fabrics industry and the plan would lead to the closure of factories on the mainland.

Mr Gilmore said: 'The industry has been dismayed at the lack of consultation on this project, particularly in the light of progress being made with the Department of Trade of Industry over consultation with business.'

Mr Gilmore said Sir Patrick promised to look into the matter.