Northern Ireland

Harland and Wolff gets extra week to find a buyer

cranes Image copyright Pacemaker

The administrators that have taken control of Harland and Wolff have agreed to give the Belfast shipyard an extra week to find a buyer.

BDO has agreed to facilitate an "unpaid temporary lay-off".

It said this provides a limited additional period for all parties to pursue any potential opportunity to find a buyer before next Friday.

Workers will not be paid during this time, but if a buyer comes along next week, their jobs can be retained.

A small number of workers have taken redundancy.

The administrators also said a number of potential bidders have come forward since Tuesday and they are "expediently following up on these enquiries in an effort to seek a viable commercial solution".

Unions have said the workforce will continue to occupy the shipyard.

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Media captionThe history of the Belfast shipyard

They have called for the shipyard to be renationalised and argue it would be cheaper for the government to keep it open.

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

Harland and Wolff entered administration earlier this week, with accountancy firm BDO formally appointed to oversee the shipyard.

The shipyard employed more than 30,000 at its peak, and the move could put 120 jobs at risk and spell the end of the iconic firm, best known for building the Titanic.

Image copyright PA/HULTON ARCHIVE/ GETTY IMAGES
Image caption The Titanic in dry dock at Harland and Wolff in February 1912

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

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