THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: From the News Letter of February 1982

Labour leader supports call to aid De Lorean

Friday, 5th February 2021, 10:00 am

Labour Party leader Michael Foot had thrown his weight behind the “more cash for De Lorean” lobby, reported the News Letter during this week in 1982.

Mr Foot told reporters in Belfast that government money should be made available to sustain the Dunmurry car firm, if the inquiry which was ongoing showed that it has a future.

Mr Foot, who was heading to a high-powered party delegation on a two-day visit to the province, said: “It was a major achievement to set the firm up in Northern Ireland.

Final day of De Lorean in May 1982. One worker pictured amongst a sea of cars in the compound of the plant holding two placards. The first reads 'The Dream Is Over' the second says 'The Nightmare Begins'. Picture: Pacemaker Press

“It would be a major tragedy it were to be set back.”

He had been asked if a Labour government would provide money to bail out the company.

He replied: “The Labour government intervened to establish it. Many false impressions have been given about De Lorean.

“There is an inquiry going on now and trade unionists to whom we spoke today all believe the inquiry will show that there is a good future for De Lorean.

De Lorean Motor Company, Dunmurry. Interior pictures of factory where employees are under familiarisation procedure and preparation for full production in April 1980. Picture: Pacemaker Press

“In that case, we believe government money should be made available to sustain it.”

The News Letter noted that Mr Foot’s support for the firm contrasted with the views of some of his own MPs, who didn’t agree that the car firm should get more cash.

A team of London-based assessors had begun its inspection of the De Lorean books. They had been appointed by the government to look into the financial state of the company, which was to pay off 1,100 workers as a result of falling sales in the United States.

The outcome of the inquiry was to determine whether the government was to agree to underwrite the company until sales picked up again and there was a sign of a return to viability.

De Lorean cars on a transporter passing through Belfast city centre in June 1981. Picture: Pacemaker Press

It was noted that the assessors had a fortnight in which to compile a report and they were expected to fly to New York to examine the accounts of the De Lorean’s parent company.

Talks between the De Lorean management and union officials about the pay-offs were to continue amid fears that the company may not have enough money to pay compensation to its employees.