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Bomb attacks put N Ireland jobs at risk

THIS YEARS building programme for Northern Irelands Department of Education, worth 48 million, could be in jeopardy following recent IRA bomb attacks in London.

A department spokesman said: Obviously a lot of government departments benefited when the ceasefire was declared but, if the situation deteriorates, there may be clawbacks. The secretary of state, Sir Patrick Mayhew, always insisted that would be the case.

When the IRA suspended its bombing campaign in 1994, the provinces education budget was one of the first to benefit from the reduced spending on law and order. This trend continued, albeit at a reduced rate, with the 1996 capital programme, which was announced by Northern Ireland education minister Michael Ancram on February 2.

Mr Ancram specifically quoted reduced security costs as the main reason behind his departments latest plan, which includes funding for 11 new schemes.

The department is hopeful that most of these projects will be safe. The spokesman said: We are monitoring the situation but are trying to remain optimistic.

But the department is not so confident about an ongoing and additional three-year capital programme worth 66 million, suggesting this could be in jeopardy if conditions become worse.