Author: Julian O’Neill
Theresa May has been urged to allow Northern Ireland to have its own immigration scheme.
It comes after a sharp fall in its foreign workers.
Twenty-one organisations connected to business have signed a letter to the prime minister highlighting their concerns.
The number of EU nationals from outside the UK employed in Northern Ireland has fallen from 54,000 to 40,000 since the Brexit referendum.
- NI sees 26% drop in EU workers since vote
- NI employment growth ‘due to EU migrants’
The organisations said this is “creating severe labour shortages” in the food processing, hospitality and construction sectors.
Before power-sharing collapsed, Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness wrote a letter on Brexit emphasising the need for NI to “allow access to unskilled, as well as highly skilled labour”.
But recently, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which advises the government on migration, ruled out a special policy for Northern Ireland.
Now organisations like the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce have written to Mrs May.
The letter read: “We are appealing for your support to deliver solutions to this worsening problem.
“We require regional flexibility for Northern Ireland to be developed through consultation with industry as soon as possible, with minimum salaries and quotas adapted in line with our specific regional needs.”