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Paris attacks affect workforce at Montupet in Belfast

By Margaret Canning

Published 17/11/2015

A young girl lights a candle opposite the Bataclan concert hall
A young girl lights a candle opposite the Bataclan concert hall
Jim Burke, managing director of the UK subsidiary of French company Montupet
The French and EU flags at half-mast outside Strasbourg
Politicians observe a minute’s silence at Stormont
A woman holds a rose and the French national flag during a vigil near the Survivor Tree at the 9/11 memorial in New York
Zadig Jestin (6) lays flowers outside one of the restaurants targeted in the attacks

A Belfast-based French worker at a major manufacturer in Northern Ireland lost a friend in the weekend's attacks in Paris, it has emerged.

Jim Burke, managing director of the UK subsidiary of French company Montupet, yesterday confirmed that the tragedy had affected his workforce deeply, with one French employee at the Dunmurry base mourning a school friend.

"Most are young engineers and they are quite shocked by this series of attacks," Mr Burke said.

The company has not named the affected employee.

He added: "I have checked personally with all of them to see if they were affected personally, or through family and friends. Fortunately, they have not been directly affected, although one had a school friend who was sadly killed."

Mr Burke said: "We have a number of French people in Montupet (UK) Belfast.

"Some in fact travelled to and from Paris this very weekend."

The company, which is based near Paris, has had an operation in Dunmurry for 25 years, employing more than 600 people making cylinder heads for car engines.

Mr Burke said colleagues who were travelling to France for business today had changed the location of their accommodation following the weekend's massacres, in which 129 people were killed in separate, co-ordinated attacks on the French capital.

He said he had also been in touch with the company headquarters in Clichy in Paris but had been relieved to establish that no employees had lost their lives.

He said the Dunmurry staff have a "very close bond" with their Parisian colleagues.

Mr Burke added: "We also have a number of local people who travel to Paris, and indeed we have some travelling today. They will still travel, but we will modify slightly the district where they will stay."

Mr Burke said he had been in a Montupet factory close to the scene of a police killing of two suspects in Paris in January in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January this year, in which 17 people died.

"It's a terrible situation which we can unfortunately too well relate to."

French firm Michelin, which employs 860 people in Ballymena, did not comment.

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