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WBR Chamber hosts South Down Politicians amid cost of doing business crisis

WBR Chamber of Commerce hosted a Q&A forum with South Down MLAs and MP in The Whistledown Hotel on 25th October. The event offered local businesses the opportunity to voice their concerns about increasing energy costs, increased costs of trading and the lack of a Stormont Executive to help administer any financial support for businesses.

The meeting came about as a result of a letter the Chamber sent to our MLAs.

In attendance were the South Down MP Chris Hazzard (Sinn Fein), and South Down MLAs Cathy Mason (Sinn Fein), Colin McGrath (SDLP), and Patrick Brown (Alliance).

Sinead Ennis (Sinn Fein) and Diane Forsythe (DUP) were unable to attend and offered their apologies.

Whilst the event was very useful for both businesses and politicians, all parties felt frustrated that there were no practical, actionable items to take away. The MLAs that attended the event all reiterated their desire to get the Assembly up and running. However, the DUP are currently clocking the formation of the devolved institution based on their concerns over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

However, the message from our members at this event was clear and concise – the current inflationary pressures and rocketing energy costs are hurting business more than the Protocol.

WBR Chamber is awaiting the outcome of today’s (Thursday 27th October) last-ditch attempt to restore the Assembly and avoid another Assembly Election. If these attempts fail, we will reiterate our stance to all South Down MLAs that the Assembly needs to be restored to ensure that businesses receive the financial support they need to ensure they are able to continue trading. SMEs are the backbone of our economy, and every day that support is delayed is another day these businesses move closer to laying off staff and closing their doors.