Belfast Telegraph

Kilroot closure: Carrickfergus people react to more bad news for town

By Brett Campbell

Residents of Carrickfergus have expressed concern that the town is being deserted by big business after devastated employees at Kilroot power station were told they could be made redundant within 90 days.

Unite union representative Shane Tedford has spent 30 years of his life working in the plant.

He said he and his colleagues were under no illusion that "virtually all jobs" at the site could be gone in three months unless management can secure a last minute extension.

"People are devastated, it's hit us all very hard," Mr Tedford said.

"This has come as a real shock to everyone."

The technician, who spent most of yesterday in meetings with management, said the "open and honest" approach from bosses had not reassured staff.

"A 90-day consultancy process has started," he said.

"So while I will help management try to secure an extension period, I will also be focused on securing the best redundancy terms for all workers - it will be a parallel process."

He said employees had thought that any shutdown of the plant would be a gradual process.

"We expected to be generating power for at least another four or five years, but it isn't looking good," he added.

Locals spoke of their fears over the social impact of the most recent in a spate of job losses in the general area.

Peter Walker (71) moved here from north London in 1972.

The father-of-three decided to settle down and start a family in what was then a "thriving and bustling" Carrickfergus.

"Nobody was out of work, unless you wanted to be, but it's turned into a ghost town now," he said.

"Things have gone downhill over the years, all you see here is shutters and closed shops."

The retired security worker said Carrick had lost its charm and had simply become a commuter hub. "No one spends money in the town," he said. "We have lost thousands of jobs in this town and it's had a real social impact."

Rev Colin Campbell has lived in the area for nearly four decades and has seen it decimated as a result of job losses.

"It's a difficult one because this is the result of a bidding war and the company offering the lower price has won, which makes sense, but there has to be a balance between savings on one hand and people's lives on the other," he said.

"The social cost has to be considered and perhaps we all need to be a bit more willing to pay more for certain items and services."

The former teacher, who is a non-subscribing Presbyterian minister, added: "There's tremendous business potential here.

"But it isn't being exploited, either are the significant tourism opportunities."

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