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new buyer

Reprieve for iconic Belfast firm as Harland and Wolff saved from closure

The future of the company looked bleak when it entered administration in August.

ALMOST 80 JOBS have been saved, after a buyer was found to prevent Belfast shipbuilders Harland and Wolff from closing down.

The firm which built the Titanic over one hundred years ago had looked set to go out of business after it entered administration in August.

However, it was announced this morning that UK firm Infrastrata had signed a deal to sign the assets of Harland and Wolff for £6 million.

The company said it is “also pleased to announce that 100% of the 79 employees, who did not opt for voluntary redundancy earlier in the year, will be retained immediately following completion of the acquisition”. 

Infrastrata said it plans to “significantly increase the size of the workforce” by several hundred people in the coming years as it progresses the developments of its infrastructure projects. 

Its CEO John Wood called Harland and Wolff a “landmark asset”. 

The shipbuilder, whose huge yellow cranes have towered over the Belfast skyline for decades, employed more than 30,000 people in the early 20th century but had just over 100 workers prior to entering administration.

A group of workers had protested outside the premises to petition for their jobs to be saved while opposition MPs in Westminster urged Boris Johnson’s government to intervene. 

John McDonnell, finance spokesman for the Labour Party in Westminster, visited the shipyard site and claimed Johnson had failed the workers by letting it fall into administration.

Reacting to the news of the buyer today, Northern Ireland Secretary of State Julian Smith said he was “delighted”. 

“I firmly believe that the shipyard has a promising future and that Infrastrata’s plans present an exciting opportunity for both Belfast and Northern Ireland’s manufacturing and energy sectors,” he said. 

Local SDLP councillor Brian Heading said the workers had fought “tooth and nail to defend their livelihoods”. 

“They deserve immense credit for their work over the last number of months,” he said. “What’s needed now is an economic strategy for the shipyard that will allow the site to grow and prosper.”

As well as building the doomed Titanic, which sank in 1912, Harland and Wolff supplied almost 150 warships during World War II.

It has since moved away from shipbuilding and was until recently working mostly on wind energy and marine engineering projects.

With reporting from AFP

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