Charity Commission to stay in Lurgan say Sinn Fein

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Fears that 25 jobs in the Charities Commission NI would be relocated from Lurgan to Belfast have been scotched by Sinn Fein.

Before Christmas there were claims that threats to a member of staff led to plans to relocate all staff to the city.

The Union NIPSA condemned plans to close the Lurgan Headquarters at the Lough Road.

However Sinn Fein MLA for Upper Bann John O’Dowd said he ad received confirmation from the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Communities that no decision will be made about the future relocation of the Charity Commission from Lurgan without full consultation with local elected representatives and Ministerial approval.

Mr O’ Dowd said: “The Permanent Secretary’s letter to me should now put an end to plans from some within the Charity Commission Board to move the Commission from Lurgan to Belfast.

“Any such move will now only take place with the approval of a Minister and I do not believe any Minister could or would approve such a move. It would be in contrary to Executive policy of decentralising public sector jobs from Belfast.

“I now call on the Charity Commission to bring this saga to an end and give the staff in the Commission the certainty of employment location they deserve,” said the Sinn Fein MLA.

A spokesperson for the Charities Commission for NI said they would not be commenting.

Last month Upper Bann SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly described possible plans to move the staff in light of a threat as ‘opportunistic’ claiming there had been a concerted quest by senior management to move the commission to Belfast since it first moved to Lurgan.

A NIPSA spokesperson also said: “This is not the first time Management have sought to move. In 2015/16, Management carried out a significant campaign with the then Minister for Social Development, Lord Morrow, to relocate to Belfast. However, the Minister was unconvinced and approved a further 5-year lease for the current site.

“Also NIPSA has long argued for more public sector jobs to be located outside Belfast and not to add to the significant numbers of public servants travelling to Belfast each day,” said the NIPSA spokesperson.