A controversial remark by a politician has seen a fierce rebuttal from Bombardier.
Amid election wrangling, Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier, has said that it remains committed to its operations in Northern Ireland – following claims by MP for East Belfast Naomi Long that the company will leave if the UK chooses to exit the EU after the planned 2017 referendum.
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With a workforce of around 6,000, Bombardier Aerospace Belfast is the largest manufacturing company in Northern Ireland.
The Alliance Party deputy leader, who is seeking re-election in the constituency where Bombardier is based, issued the warning a fortnight ago.
In response, a Bombardier spokesman said: “Over the past 25 years, we have invested more than £2.5 billion in our business here to ensure that we stay at the forefront of the global aerospace industry. That includes our on-going investment of £520 million in the production of C-Series aircraft wings — the largest-ever single inward investment in Northern Ireland.
“In addition to building a new facility in Belfast to produce the wings, we also acquired a new site in Newtownabbey in the past few years to facilitate growth.”
Following a research, development and test programme, Bombardier Belfast is currently manufacturing the primary structural components of the CSeries aircraft composite wing, using its patented Resin Transfer Infusion (RTI) process. These wings are the largest and most complex composite structures manufactured and assembled in the UK using this particular technology
Economy Minister Arlene Foster demanded an apology from Ms Long when she raised the matter during Question Time in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Ms Long’s main rival in next week’s General Election is Gavin Robinson, of the DUP, which is in favour of a referendum on the EU. He is quoted as saying: “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”