People on Newry’s streets yesterday were almost unanimous in their response to the death of Lord Ballyedmond – being “shocked” at the sudden demise of someone who created so many jobs.
One lady who lives adjacent to his main Norbrook factory in Newry said she had seen him taking off in his distinctive blue and white helicopter only the day before.
“Everyone in town is shocked to hear the news,” she said. “I was down in my father’s house only yesterday and I said to dad ‘there is Eddie again’ as he took off.”
Richard Qua had done some work at one of his factories as a sub-contractor.
“It is very sad that he died like that,” he told the News Letter. “He was a good employer.”
Arlene Loughran from Camlough said it was “very sad”. She added: “I lost my own sister in a car crash when she was only 20 so I know how tragedies can happen. It doesn’t matter how much money you have you can still lose your life in an accident.”
James Magowan from Banbridge has a number of friends who work for Norbook.
“I applied for a job with him recently myself,” he said. “It was shocking news to hear how he died.”
Tracey Maginn from Armagh said his death was “shocking news”. She added: “He had good respect and did a lot for the community.”
At 5.30pm yesterday hundreds of workers streamed out of the main Newry factory. However, every one of them spoken to by the News Letter honoured their founder’s memory by declining to make any tribute to the press.
Police officers on foot were unusually stationed on at least three locations along the route from Newry to Lord Ballyedmond’s Rostrevor home yesterday. The PSNI said there were no incidents in the area.
However it is understood officers may have been on to help VIPs travelling to the tycoon’s home negotiate potential traffic congestion.