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BBC NI business editor James Kerr:
"The company said it expects to make a further similar announcement shortly"
 real 28k

Monday, 12 March, 2001, 18:58 GMT
Shipyard wins Dublin bridge order
Contract to update Ha'penny Bridge and build new bridge
Ha'penny Bridge and new bridge orders for Harlands
The financially troubled Belfast shipyard Harland and Wolff has won an order to build a bridge across the Liffey in Dublin city centre.

It also includes refurbishment work on another of the Liffey bridges, the famous Ha'penny Bridge, which is one of the city's best-known landmarks.

The order, from the construction company Irishenco, comes at an important time for the yard when it needs to find work to fill a gap in its books until full production starts on a Ministry of Defence contract.

Harlands laid off half of its 1,200 strong workforce last September because its order book was empty.

Last week, the company announced it had finalised contracts to build two roll-on roll-off ferries for the MoD.

But it said that while work would begin immediately, full production would not start until the summer.

Further announcement expected

With all other work at the yard nearing completion, the firm needed new orders to keep its remaining workforce of 600 employed until the summer.

Work on the new bridge will go some way to meeting that need.

The bridge, which will be more than 40 yards long, is to carry traffic between Ellis Quay and Ushers Island in the docks area of Dublin.

The Ha'penny pedestrian bridge leading into the popular culture and tourism area Templebar, is almost 200 years old and is to get a major facelift.

Harlands said it hoped to make another contract announcement within a few days.

Hard times

Harlands lost more than 26m last year according to figures from its parent company, Olsen Energy.

The Norwegian firm said most of it related to redundancy costs in cutting the workforce and in restructuring a company operating well below full capacity.

The yard's position was further weakened in November last year when the High Court in London ruled against Harlands in a dispute with its customer, the US oil giant Global Marine, in which the Belfast yard said a final payment of 20m should be paid on a drillship contract.

Olsen Energy also said it had given Harlands financial support totalling almost 90m.

In February, Harlands sold leases for land it currently uses for shipbuilding to its parent company.

In the deal, Olsen Energy took over the property interests in an area of the Titanic Quarter, which is to be developed as a business park.

The proceeds of the deal, worth 46m to Harlands, was used to reduce its debts to its parent company and its bankers.

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See also:

22 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Yard workers face 'uncertainty'
21 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Shipyard to lay off half workforce
03 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Lay-offs at Belfast shipyard begin
26 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Shipyard wins MoD order
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