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On August 5th, 2019 Harland and Wolff went into administration after almost
160 years of continuous operations in Belfast.   Many column inches were
subsequently filled with regurgitated pap about the building of The
Titanic, the iconic yellow cranes that dominate the Belfast skyline and a
generally sanitised history of the shipyard.

For their part, the workers and the trade unions rightly called for the
nationalisation of the company - a call that will almost certainly be
ignored by a Thatcher-channeling Boris Johnson.

In the month since the closure it has been reported that the administrators
are considering a number of offers for the company.  These offers appears
to relate to the possible future manufacturing of wind turbines and other
renewable energy technology, which has been the core business of Harland
and Wolff for the best part of the last decade.  The fate of the once
mighty shipyard, and the valuable lands upon which it stands, will soon be
decided by the stroke of an accountant’s pen.

Wind turbines, not ships, have been the core business of Harland and Wolff
for a number of years.
Wind turbines, not ships, have been the core business of Harland and Wolff
for a number of years.

Regardless of what that final decision will be, the placing of Harland and
Wolff into administration has huge symbolic importance in the context of
the slow gradual death of unionism as a political force in Ireland - a
process which cannot be understood or judged in the timescale of months,
years or even decades.   Instead it must be measured in quarter, half and
full centuries.

The roots of today’s unionism lie in the brutal plantation of Ulster, which
began in. . .

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