P&O Ferries Update

Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 1:30 pm on 21st March 2022.

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Photo of Gordon Lyons Gordon Lyons DUP 1:30 pm, 21st March 2022

I hope that I was clear in my answer to Mr O'Dowd. I reiterate that, if it is a role for the UK Government, I will strongly support them in taking action, and, if there is a role for us to play, I will be more than happy to do that as well. If P&O gets public money and continues to act in that way, and if there is a role for us to play, I will be keen to look at all the options available, because it has acted in an absolutely disgraceful way.

What irks me even more is the fact that P&O knew a long time ago that this would happen. Six weeks ago, it engaged a security firm to come onto the boats in the event of trouble. The employees of that security firm were told to ensure that they had their utility belts and handcuffs. P&O knew six weeks ago the difficult situation that it was going to send that security firm into, yet it was not prepared to give its staff any notice ahead of time. It has acted in a reprehensible way, and there needs to be consequences for that.

The Member asked me what that action will be. That depends. I do not know what level of public funding the company gets at the minute. She will understand that we have not been able to have that engagement with P&O yet, but we will take whatever action we can. I hope that she hears the strength of my words today. I am prepared to do anything that I can to support the workers and to ensure that no company thinks that it can get away with this again in the future.