Belfast Telegraph

Bosses concerned over their Libyan interests

By Clare Weir

The boss of a Northern Ireland company with interests in Libya has said that his contacts are safe despite their building being shelled amid fierce fighting in the capital Tripoli.

CIGA Healthcare, a self-diagnostic test firm situated outside Ballymena, secured its first business in Libya earlier this year following a partnership agreement with Jafara, a pharmaceuticals business in Tripoli, located close to the current unrest.

Conflict is centred around the compound of Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi after rebels seized control of much of the city at the weekend.

However Neill Armstrong, CIGA sales director, said that he still has concerns for the friends and business associates he has made.

"We spoke on Monday morning, everyone is fine," he said.

"The company building is quite close to Gaddafi's compound and it has been hit by shells. However looking at the pictures of the rebels and the way things are being done, I don't know how much better a possible new regime might be.

"To be honest, we can't wait to get our guys out of there.

"It is a real shame because Libya has so much tourism potential - it is more liberal than some of the other middle eastern countries and the people are very friendly. It also has lots of natural resources

"It is the ideal place to do business but so many of these qualities are being overshadowed by the fighting.

"We look forward things becoming more stable, so stronger business and tourism links can be forged between Northern Ireland and Libya."

CIGA, which employs 15 people, had predicted that their exports to global markets, including the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf, were likely to provide up to 10% of the firm's business over the next year.