Fears for NI jobs amid National Trust redundancies

Around 80 National Trust jobs are at risk in Northern Ireland as the charity plans 1,200 redundancies across the UK.

It comes after the Trust said it expects to lose up to £200m this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and needs to make £100m of annual savings.

All of its houses, car parks, shops and cafes were closed when the UK went into lockdown earlier this year.

Director General Hilary McGrady said: “It is deeply upsetting to face losing colleagues and we are committed to supporting all of those affected. 

“Sadly, we have no other course of action left open. 

“In making these changes now, I am confident we will be well-placed to face the challenges ahead, protecting the places that visitors love and ensuring our conservation work continues long into the future.”

The National Trust employs 570 people in Northern Ireland.

Its NI director, Heather McLachlan, confirmed that the charity’s operations here would also be affected by the savings proposals.

"All aspects of the Trust’s work have been impacted by the pandemic, and Northern Ireland is no different," she said.

"The consultation with staff has only just opened, so it is not possible to be definitive about the number of potential redundancies across our places in Northern Ireland at this stage.

"However, this could be in the order of 80 salaried staff. There will also be a reduction in our hourly paid staff budget, as is the case across the Trust."

She went on: "This is a very sad day for us, and we will continue to do everything we can to mitigate the impact of job losses.

"Unfortunately these measures are essential to ensure our charity can continue to provide access to nature, beauty and history to everyone in the future.

"This is vital as society seeks to recover from the effects of this pandemic.’

Alliance MLA John Blair said the news comes as “a major blow for the sector”.

He added: “The Trust provides vital conservation work to protect and care for our precious coastlines, woodlands and countryside. 

“In the recovery from the pandemic, it is important we support organisations such as the National Trust so they can continue to do just that."