Shipyard workers given tickets for Opera House in show of solidarity
Harland & Wolff workers have been invited to a new musical about The Miami Showband in a bid to boost morale.
The historic Belfast company entered administration last week after a period of financial difficulty.
Playwrights Marie Jones and Martin Lynch have offered 20 free tickets for their latest show The Miami Showband Story to workers occupying the Harland & Wolff site.
The 130-strong staff have continued their protest at the shipyard while the administrators try to find a buyer.
Jones said she understands the uncertainty over the shipyard's future for workers and their families, as her eldest son Darren is among those made redundant.
Royal Navy veteran Darren has worked as a project manager at Harland & Wolff for the past five years.
"Darren is being quite philosophical about it, as they all knew that administration was imminent," Marie said.
"But the shipyard has always been part of our family background and heritage - Darren's grandfather and some of our uncles worked there.
"If you're from east Belfast the shipyard is in your DNA and no matter where you went you always saw those iconic cranes.
"It's very eerie being down there at the moment with the complete and utter silence, but the atmosphere among the workers is quite optimistic.
"Their spirits are still high as they feel they have some sort of control over their lives at the minute," she added.
Marie says the tickets, sponsored by Martin Lynch and GBL Productions, have been offered to the shipyard workers for tonight's performance of The Miami Showband Story at the Grand Opera House in a show of solidarity.
"A lot of the guys who worked in the shipyard lived through the showband era and they know the music associated with it, so we just wanted to offer them a bit of escapism and hopefully lift their spirits," she said.
Co-writer Martin Lynch added: "This is only a small gesture to some of those who have lost their jobs, but we wanted them to know that people care about them and they haven't been forgotten about.
"If the workers can come along to enjoy a show where everyone leaves so full of joy, then we hope that would be a good night out for them in the middle of this despair."