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Government Wanted to Shut H&W Yard, but Thatcher Was Warned it Would Wreck Peace

21st August 2015
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Government Wanted to Shut H&W Yard, but Thatcher Was Warned it Would Wreck Peace

#1987Govfiles - Northern Ireland state papers dating from 1987 reveal of plans by the Government to shut down Harland and Wolff in the 1980s, that risked throwing the peace process into turmoil, civil servants warned, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

They feared closure would mean violent opposition and a "serious" blow to political progress.

One memo warned of protests on the scale of those which followed the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement.

The situation was so grave, Secretary of State Tom King briefed the Prime Minister on the "very major" political implications.

Once one of the world's largest shipbuilders, Harland and Wolff built more than 70 ships for the White Star Line, including The Titanic. By the 1980s, the company was struggling to stay afloat.

It was receiving £30m a year in Government aid and officials said closure would be a cheaper option.

A 1985 corporate plan calculated that its order book would run out by the end of 1986.

The newspaper have more (click here).

Published in Belfast Lough
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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