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Closure of Irish TV in Northern Ireland leads to dozens of job losses

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By John Mulgrew

Published 22/11/2016

Lisa McHugh and Malachi Cush presented the Irish TV Country Music Awards in August last year
Lisa McHugh and Malachi Cush presented the Irish TV Country Music Awards in August last year

The closure of television company Irish TV's Northern Ireland office has been branded a sad loss by one of its best-known stars.

Irish TV has ended its operations in Co Tyrone, after the parent company entered interim examinership in the Republic earlier this month. It's understood around 30 jobs have been lost as a result of the closure. It's believed around nine full-time staff were employed at the Donaghmore office, with around two dozen others working for the firm.

Co Tyrone musician and presenter, Malachi Cush was one of the station's best-known faces. Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he said: "It's disappointing for all the people who were employed by the company. But unfortunately, it's a difficult landscape, and leaves a lot of people in difficulty coming up to Christmas."

Mr Cush helped launch the station and also produced and hosted the Country Music Awards show, as well as being involved in other flagship programmes, such as Eamonn Mallie Meets.

"It's sad. I put my whole heart and soul into it and thought it was a good project, and thought there was room to go further.

"But there are a lot of people who have walked away who are much more employable now, and learned skills."

It's understood staff were told on Friday that the office in Co Tyrone was shutting and their jobs would be lost.

Irish TV (NI) Limited was based at the Torrent Complex at Hillview Avenue in Donaghmore.

A meeting of creditors is due to be held at the offices of Grant Thornton in Belfast later this month.

The broadcaster, which was launched in 2014, has been struggling and John Griffin, the millionaire backer of Irish TV, quit as a director last month.

The firm's operation in Co Mayo obtained High Court protection earlier this month after an unexpected funding shortfall and liabilities over assets of €8.7m (£7.42m).

Irish TV operates from Westport Industrial Park in Co Mayo and broadcasts a 24-hour channel on Sky, Eir and free-to-air services as well as an online video on demand service.

It also has offices in New York, London, Dublin and Kerry.

An independent report suggested the closure of the offices - including Co Tyrone - along with the implementation of a redundancy programme for certain employees, and reduced travel costs and expenses across all departments, could help assist in ensuring the station's survival.

A spokesman for Irish TV would not comment about the closure of the Co Tyrone office, but in a statement said its application to the High Court in the Republic for the company to be placed into interim examinership was "necessary and unavoidable".

It said it will continue to broadcast, and will be "looking at all options to revitalise the business".

"A report presented to the court by KPMG outlined that there is a good prospect of Irish TV becoming a profitable business if a restructuring process can be undertaken and if new investors can be sourced," it said.

"All staff members at the company have been briefed on the examinership application and process."

It is still broadcasting 24 hours a day, including programmes such as The Foster & Allen Show and Ireland's Country, presented by Malachi Cush and Susan McCann.

Belfast Telegraph

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