Local DUP MLA George Robinson has slammed the decision to close the DVA Offices in Coleraine as “short sighted”, “uncaring for the staff” and a “financial nonsense”.
In a statement, Mr Robinson said: “The decision announced today is a betrayal of all the hard working staff of the DVA in Northern Ireland and is nothing but a financial nonsense.
“The Northern Ireland staff have proven their loyalty and worth many times over and to see then treated in such a shameful manner is disgusting.
“The impact on benefit payments will be huge never mind the widespread economic damage done to Northern Ireland as a whole, there is no financial argument for closure of DVANI. Stephen Hammond should hang his head in shame at this decision and his treatment of the extremely loyal Northern Ireland workforce.
“The Swansea MP Sian James stated previously that Swansea Centre could not cope currently, and now staff in Swansea are expected to pick up the workload from Northern Ireland!
“We are going to get an inferior service just for the sake of so called progress. There is no progress for the Northern Ireland staff or the economy. It is a short sighted and foolish decision that proves direct rule would be devastating for Northern Ireland if it were ever enforced.”
Mr Robinson added: “My party, counciilors MLA’s, MP’s and First Minister have vehemently opposed this closure over many years and today has been a devastating blow for all of us who worked to retain our local services.
“The Assembly unanimously supported a cross party motion in support of the staff and services but this has been tossed aside by Minister Hammond. The decision is uncaring for the staff as no announcement regarding re-deployment or retraining accompanied this bombshell.
“Stephen Hammond can sit back and not care now his decision is made, but it is up to those of us representing the area to do the hard work of dealing with the aftermath of his ill-judged decision”.