UKIP Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall MEP, long term campaigner against plain packing for cigarettes and with a long standing connection with Northern Ireland said:
“These workers in Northern Ireland have lost their jobs because of a changing business environment compounded by the EU’s recent Tobacco Directive.
“Eight hundred people are now unemployed due to political decisions of the three legacy parties who supported the Tobacco Directive, something which UKIP strongly opposed.
“The plain packaging demanded by the EU’s Tobacco Directive also means there will be more counterfeit cigarettes with a loss of Government revenue and a surge in sub-standard cigarettes.
“The directive simply restricts peoples pleasure and brings a bonanza for black market smugglers. These jobs losses in Co Antrim are the other consequence.
“Will the MEPs whose parties supported this EU legislation in Brussels now travel to Northern Ireland and meet the new jobless to apologise? If they have any honour they would.”
Commenting on the news, UKIP MLA David McNarry said:
“The devastating news emanating out of Gallahers is a hammer blow for Ballymena, for North Antrim and for Northern Ireland. Gallahers is a major employer in Northern Ireland, and provided employment for 800 people. Many families will feel the impact of this news for a long time.”
“Gallahers is vital to the wider local economy, and is a huge part of the community. In addition to in-house jobs, Gallahers also provides business for 200 other locally based firms. We simply don’t know at this stage what the full-scale the knock on effect of this news will be.”
“My thoughts are with all of those affected, and their families, at this time of great uncertainty.”