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Lisburn engineering firm McGrath Bros closes with the loss of 171 jobs

By John Mulgrew

The latest major jobs blow has come with the news that Lisburn engineering firm McGrath Bros is closing its doors, putting 171 people out of work.

McGrath Bros (Engineering) Group Ltd has ceased trading along with sister business Construction Architectural Metalwork Limited.

It's understood around 120 of the posts are based in Lisburn, with the rest in Great Britain.

Managing director Brian McGrath said tough trading conditions and "legacy contracts" taken on during the recession were to blame.

The company, which specialises in structural and architectural steelwork, has worked on a range of big projects, including several London train stations, such as King's Cross.

The firm also did work on the London Aquatics Centre, which was one of the main venues during the London 2012 Summer Olympics.

Mr McGrath said it is with "deep regret that the directors and founders" of the business have "had to make this difficult decision".

"Trading conditions in the manufacturing and construction sectors have had a severe impact on our business," he said.

"Legacy contracts taken on during the recession have also taken their toll on main contractors and specialist sub-contractors alike, all linking to underpayments of completed works and disputed final accounts.

"We have explored all possible options to continue operations and remain in business. Sadly, despite our efforts, we have been unable to find a positive outcome. We know this will be a very difficult time for our staff, many of whom have given years of loyal service to the company," he added.

He said he has hope that once an administrator is appointed to find a buyer for the business, some jobs could be saved.

Jonathan Craig, DUP Assembly candidate for Lagan Valley, said: "I think it's an incredibly sad blow to all those employed, and the families connected to those employed." He added the losses would be "very difficult" for staff, who may now need to retrain to find suitable work.

It's the latest blow to Northern Ireland's manufacturing sector following a series of major losses across some of the largest firms here.

That includes aerospace giant Bombardier, which is shedding 1,080 staff.

Tyre maker Michelin revealed in November that it is pulling out of Northern Ireland by 2018, with the loss of 860 jobs.

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