Save the Titanic shipyard, pleads Church leader

The RMS Titanic in what is thought to be the last known image of the ship as she sets sail from Queenstown for New York.(Photo: Reuters/Christie's)

A Church of Ireland bishop is appealing to the Government to step in to save the historic shipyard that built the Titanic from insolvency. 

Harland & Wolff went into administration on Wednesday, putting 125 jobs at risk. 

Over and above the loss of jobs, the announcement is a significant emotional blow to Belfast, where the shipyard has been a part of the city's industrial fabric - and its skyline - since its founding in 1861. 

In addition to the Titanic, noteworthy ships built by the company include the RMS Olympic and RMS Britannic for the White Star Line, and the Royal Navy's HMS Belfast. 

In recent years, though, the company had moved into renewable energy, building wind turbines.

The company announced it was going into administration after failing to find a buyer.  The Government has so far dismissed calls to nationalise the iconic shipyard. 

The Bishop of Down and Dromore, Harold Miller, said the insolvency was a "troubling development" for the whole region as he urged the Government to intervene to save the shipyard. 

"The insolvency of Harland and Wolff is a troubling development for the people of East Belfast and Northern Ireland as a whole," he said.

"Harland and Wolff has played a central and iconic role in the province's economy to date, and has shown innovation and resilience by adapting its business to the growth in renewable energy.

"The company has had an important role in passing on skills learned and built up over decades to a younger generation, which should not be lost.

"I encourage all in leadership to do everything in their power to secure the future of the company and for government to seek out new opportunities on behalf of its employees and their families."

A spokesman for administrators BDO Northern Ireland said in a statement: "BDO Northern Ireland partners Michael Jennings and Brian Murphy have been appointed as joint administrators of Harland and Wolff.

"Founded in 1861, the Belfast-based company has in recent years specialised in wind energy and marine engineering projects.

"After a long sales process, in which a buyer could not be found, the business has been unable to continue trading due to having insufficient funds following the recent insolvency of its ultimate parent.

"The team at BDO have engaged immediately with Harland and Wolff employees and other stakeholders to take all necessary steps to ensure they are supported throughout the administration process."