Harland and Wolff: administration to be completed this morning

Clouds hang over the Harland and Wolff crane in Belfast shipyard. Picture: Diane Magill
Clouds hang over the Harland and Wolff crane in Belfast shipyard. Picture: Diane Magill
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Last ditch attempts to save troubled Belfast shipyard Harland and Wolff have failed and accountancy firm BDO has been appointed as administrators, a spokesman for the engineering firms has said.

An insolvency request is expected to be filed at the High Court in Belfast on Tuesday to complete the process.

The move puts over 120 jobs at risk and could spell the end of the iconic firm, which is best known for building the Titanic.

Union sources said staff were given redundancy notices saying the business will cease trading on Monday at 5.15pm.

Last week workers said they had taken control of the site and established a rota to ensure their protest continued around the clock.

They say their protest will continue.

At a press conference, trade unionists representing staff warned they will stand against the DUP in a forthcoming general election if the party does not do more to support workers, the BBC reported.

At its height, Harland and Wolff employed more than 30,000 people.

The firm had been up for sale amid serious financial problems at its Norwegian owner.

East Belfast DUP MP Gavin Robinson said officials had advised against government intervention.

“We’ve pulled all the political levers that we can,” he told the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme.

It is expected that the administrators will try to restart a sales process.

The Newry firm, MJM, that specialises in cruise ship fit-outs, is a potential bidder.

At least one property company is also interested in the business, the BBC reported.

But the future is not bright for the workforce, even if there is a new buyer.

Administrators arrived on Monday evening for a meeting with workers.

Workers have maintained a round-the-clock demonstration at the gates of the historic shipyard for a week in hopes of a last-minute deal to save it.

Trading officially ceased at 5.15pm on Monday.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has expressed its support for the Harland and Wolff workforce.

Assistant General Secretary Owen Reidy said: “On this day, the entire trade union movement across these islands stands as one with the workers at the shipyard.

“Since this crisis began a few days ago, there has been a huge outpouring of moral support and solidarity from trade union activists and leaders, with rallies, media events, political lobbies and even family entertainment for the workers and their families.

“There has been some substantial political support from local political parties, from Belfast City Council and from the UK Labour Party.

“Sadly, that support has not been matched by the new UK Government, and it is time for the new NI Secretary of State to take action to preserve those jobs and to invest in skilled manufacturing.

“Nothing, except political will, prevents the UK Government nationalising the shipyard, and maintaining it as a going concern until further contracts can be competed for and awarded.”