Political leaders in Northern Ireland have voiced concern about the future for thousands of workers following the announcement by Bombardier that it plans to sell its aerostructures business.
DUP leader Arlene Foster said: “Bombardier is an integral part of the Northern Ireland economy, with the skills of the local workforce having been recognised throughout the company.
“The partnership with Airbus represented a fresh opportunity for Bombardier and there have been a number of significant orders received since that announcement.
“The company themselves have recognised the significant increase in work, but the announcement of an intention to sell will be unsettling for the staff.
“It is welcome that there have been no workforce implications in relation to this announcement and both staff and the company can be assured of any support locally or in London which might assist them at this time.”
Sinn Fein deputy Michelle O’Neill said: “This is hugely concerning for the affected workers and the wider manufacturing industry and economy in the North.
“Bombardier has faced a number of difficulties over recent years and there have been several major job loss announcements over that time.
“The economic uncertainty caused by Brexit has also impacted severely on the manufacturing sector and wider economy here.
“However, the scale of today’s announcement will still come as a shock to those affected and to our local economy.”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: “This announcement will cause significant uncertainty for workers in Bombardier sites across Belfast and across the North.
“It is critical that those most affected by this announcement are offered certainty about their long-term security in the time ahead and supported throughout any transition process when a buyer is identified.”
The Ulster Unionist Party’s finance spokesman Steve Aiken said: “The news is a matter of considerable concern, not least for the 4,000 employees and their families.
“There has been no doubt that Bombardier has struggled in recent years, particularly around the development of the C series, but having successfully tied up with the globally leading Airbus company, it was hoped that Bombardier’s future within the aerospace sector was assured.
“It must be hoped that all the aerostructures divisions here in Northern Ireland can be retained by any new purchaser and that manufacturing and jobs can be maintained.”
Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said everything possible must be done to ensure a suitable buyer is found.