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Row over Long's Bombardier claims

Published 14/04/2015

Alliance candidate Naomi Long on the campaign trail in Belfast East
Alliance candidate Naomi Long on the campaign trail in Belfast East

A leading aircraft manufacturer said it remains committed to its operations in Northern Ireland amid a political row over its potential intentions in the event of an EU referendum.

Bombardier, which is one of the region's largest private sector employers, made clear its position after East Belfast election hopeful Naomi Long claimed the company would leave if the UK left the EU.

Alliance politician Mrs Long, who is aiming for re-election in the constituency where Bombardier's factory is based, issued the warning at a general election hustings event last night.

In response, a spokeswoman for the manufacturer said: "Bombardier remains committed to its operations in Northern Ireland.

"We have a long history of engineering innovation and manufacturing excellence, and over the past 25 years, we have invested more than £2.5 billion in our business here to ensure we stay at the forefront of the global aerospace industry.

"That includes our on-going investment of £520 million in the production of the CSeries aircraft wings - the largest ever single inward investment in Northern Ireland.

"In addition to building a new facility in Belfast to produce the wings, in the past few years we also acquired a new site in Newtownabbey to facilitate growth.

"We will not speculate at this stage on the future of the UK's participation in the EU."

Mrs Long's comments drew an angry response from DUP Economy Minister Arlene Foster, whose party colleague Gavin Robinson is Mrs Long's main challenger for the East Belfast seat in May.

Mrs Foster demanded an apology as she raised the matter during Assembly Question Time.

"I hope the member who has made the comment reflects on the comments and indeed apologies to Bombardier for the embarrassment she has caused," she said.

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