Harland and Wolff: ‘Positive talks’ over shipyard future

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There have been “positive discussions” regarding the sale of Belfast shipyard Harland and Wolff, according to the administrators.

The business entered administration earlier this month, with accountancy firm BDO overseeing the process.

The move places 120 jobs at risk and could spell the end of the firm, best known for building the Titanic.

BDO said it hoped the ongoing talks may lead to “credible offers”.

“In light of this, the administrators, in tandem with the unions and workforce, are intending to continue the unpaid temporary lay-off initiated on our appointment beyond today,” it added.

“The limited retained team of workers are continuing to maintain the site and assist the administrators in carrying out their duties.”

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Media captionThe history of the Belfast shipyard

Unions representing workers have previously called for the shipyard to be renationalised.

They argue it would be cheaper for the government to keep the shipyard open.

However, the government has said the crisis is “ultimately a commercial issue”.

At its peak, the firm employed more than 30,000 people. The firm had been up for sale amid serious financial problems at its Norwegian owner.

Before the yard went into administration, workers took control of the site and established a rota to ensure their protest continued around the clock.

The Northern Ireland Office has previously said Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith “understands the impact” uncertainty over the shipyard will have for workers and their families.

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The Titanic in dry dock at Harland and Wolff in February 1912

After the administration announcement, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster said she and the party’s East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson had met GMB and Unite.

She said they had a “shared vision” for the yard.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said Labour would have nationalised the shipyard and he accused the government of betraying the workers.

Harland and Wolff’s best known vessel is the Titanic, which was built at the yard between 1909 and 1911.

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