Political leaders unite in tributes to entrepreneur Eddie Haughey

Gilmore, Robinson and McGuinness praise ‘visionary businessman’

 The wreckage of a helicopter at the accident site in Gillingham, Norfolk. Photograph:  EPA/Jason Bye

The wreckage of a helicopter at the accident site in Gillingham, Norfolk. Photograph: EPA/Jason Bye

Fri, Mar 14, 2014, 16:00

The Government, along with the heads of the Stormont Executive have paid tribute to Eddie Haughey, who died in a helicopter crash in Britain yesterday.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the Norbrook founder was “a visionary businessman and a leading employer who brought many high-quality jobs to Newry in particular”. He added that both the Seanad and the House of Lords at Westminster are “joined by the loss of a man who served in both chambers and whose interests and influence spanned both sides of the Border”.

“He took a great interest in Northern Ireland where he made his home and, whilst a member of Seanad Éireann, acted as a member of the British Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body and on the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation. My deepest sympathy goes to his family and friends and to the families and friends of all those killed in this tragic accident.”

Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson said Mr Haughey “was a great ambassador for Northern Ireland” who “worked tirelessly to develop the globally respected Newry based veterinary pharmaceutical company Norbrook Laboratories”.

“As a result of his vision and leadership he created employment opportunities for many people in Northern Ireland,” he said.

“A seasoned and well respected politician, Edward’s passing will be a great loss to his family and everyone in Northern Ireland.”

His tributes were echoed by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who said the death “will be acutely felt in the Newry and wider Co Down area where his entrepreneurial spirit was a catalyst for economic development”.

“Eddie was a highly motivated man with immense business skills,” he said.

Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “Lord Ballyedmond created many jobs and opportunities in Northern Ireland through his leadership of Norbrook Laboratories, as well as serving with distinction in the Irish Senate and later in the House of Lords.”

Ulster Unionist peer and former party leader Lord (Reg) Empey said: “This tragic accident has cut short the life of a man who had still much to give.”

His party colleague and regional development minister Danny Kennedy said:

“Lord Ballyedmond was a determined businessman who brought much needed employment to my own constituency of Newry and Armagh. He built a world class business from scratch and at the same time managed to base it locally.”

South Down MP and former SDLP leader Ms Ritchie said:

“This is a terrible tragedy which has taken the lives of two good men from South Down.

“Dr Haughey’s commitment to this part of the world was absolute. As a talented entrepreneur he brought huge investment and employment to the region, establishing the greatly successful Norbrook Laboratories. And as a man actively interested in civic life, serving as a member of both Seanad Éireann and the British House of Lords.

“Northern Ireland has lost a true ally,” she added.

Stormont enterprise minister Arlene Foster expressed her condolences: “Norbrook Laboratories currently exports to more than 120 countries worldwide and Lord Ballyedmond worked tirelessly to promote Northern Ireland as an investment location,” she said.

South Down Sinn Féin Assembly member Cáitríona Ruane said: “I offer my sympathies to the families of those who died last night in a helicopter crash in England. ”

Dr Haughey was well known in the South Down area for his work in creating employment through several business interests including Norbrook Laboratories.

“I met Dr Haughey several times, he was interested in education and wanted to create employment opportunities in the South Down area.

“My thoughts are also with the families of the other three men who also died last night.”