Crash probe continues as tributes pour in for Edward Haughey

Lord Ballyedmond
Lord Ballyedmond

Warm tributes have continued to be paid to Lord Ballyedmond who died in a helicopter crash on Thursday evening as the accident probe progresses.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has been recovering the crash debris over the weekend - including the flight voice recorder which is now being examined.

“We are plotting the distribution of the debris on the field before removing fuel from the helicopter to make it safe,” an AAIB spokesman said.

The Conservative peer had recently raised safety concerns with the aircraft’s manufacturers.

Lord Ballyedmond, known as Edward Haughey until he was made a life peer in 2004, was believed to be the richest man in Northern Ireland. He was chairman of Norbrook, the largest privately-owned pharmaceutical company in the world.

His AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter came down in thick fog in a field in Norfolk on Thursday claiming total of four lives.

South Down MLA Jim Wells said the death of the businessman was a “devastating blow to Newry, south Down and indeed a much wider area”.

He said: “You can’t exaggerate the importance of Eddie Haughey to the regeneration of Newry.

“He single-handedly transformed Newry from a bit of a desolate economic backwater to a relatively thriving city. I was told that every year he brought, directly or indirectly, £30million into the Newry economy and that is a phenomenal amount of money.”

Mr Wells described Lord Ballyedmond as “a self-made man”.

“He was a workaholic. He was one of the most driven men I have ever met. He never seemed to know when to relax, he just worked constantly.

“He came back from the States and started selling pharmaceuticals from the back of a van. People in the city still remember him driving this van around the various vets and farmers selling veterinary products.

“He spotted a huge gap in the market when he realised there was nobody else in Northern Ireland who was manufacturing veterinary products.

“He started to develop his own products which are now sold in over 100 countries throughout the world.”

Mr Wells said “Northern Ireland punches well about its weight” in the pharmaceutical world and said he hoped whoever takes over the running of the company is as loyal to the Province.

“He was feted by countries throughout the world to transfer production. He was chased by the Irish Republic to move his production south of the border, which would have been relatively easy done, but he stuck by Northern Ireland and always the bulk of his workforce was here.

“I don’t think we will find a businessman or an entrepreneur as loyal to Northern Ireland again as Eddie Haughey.

“He was totally committed to Newry and I don’t think they will make them like that in the future. He made his mark on Newry and Newry is now very much the poorer without him.

“Very unusually he was the only person to have been in the [Republic of Ireland] Senate and the House of Lords, and his contribution to economic development was such that he was a shoo-in for both his skills were so much in demand.

“He was also was very generous to local charities,” Mr Wells added.