§ Mrs. Iris Robinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assistance is being given to the former employees of Saintfield Yarns by government agencies to access(a) re-training and employment opportunities and (b) redundancy and benefits payments before the Christmas period. 
§ Mr. Pearson
Following notification of closure at Saintfield Yarns, the Department for Employment and Learning's Ballynahinch JobCentre offered to the company its job brokerage service and a full range of advisory services relating to training opportunities, redundancy payments and benefit entitlement. This took place over two days on the employer's premises and approximately 100 employees availed of the service. Representatives of the Social Security Agency, Invest NI, Enterprise Ulster, and local training organisations were also involved.
In addition, representatives from Marks and Spencer and Antrim Carpets were available to discuss job opportunities and to distribute application forms.
The Department has received 168 applications for Redundancy and Insolvency payments from former employees. These claims are being verified and processed and all eligible applicants are likely to receive a redundancy payment before Christmas. It is also anticipated that all claims for benefit will be processed within the same timescale.
JobCentre staff are providing continuing support to all who require it.