MJM Group buys former NI military base, to create 100 jobs

Company acquires Shackleton base in Co Derry from Northern Executive in £1m deal

Brian McConville, founder and group chairman of MJM

The Northern Ireland Executive is to sell a former British military base in Co Derry for £1 million to the Newry headquartered MJM Group who initially plan to create more than 100 jobs on the site.

The Shackleton base in Ballykelly was gifted to the Northern Ireland Executive by the British Government under the Hilllsborough Agreement in 2011.

On Friday, the North's First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness announced their agreement to sell the 621.5 acre site to the specialist joinery and fit out firm MJM Group.

Brian McConville, the founder and group chairman of MJM said although its initial plan is to create 100 jobs on the site it is his “vision” that there will be at least 1,000 jobs created once the Ballykelly site is fully developed.


MJM intend to establish a number of new business ventures at Shackleton including a facility to refurbish and fit out private jets and railway carriages. It also owns Antrim construction firm Mivan which has won a £2.5 million contract to fit out the new luxury train that is being launched in Ireland by the group which owns the Orient Express.

The Newry firm said it will relocate its IT service centre and facilities management services to Shackleton and is also considering it as a location which would facilitate a potential expansion into the energy sector.

The MJM Group is currently examining the possibility of developing a 60MW solar farm which could cost up to £60 million on the site.

Mr McConville said he believes the opportunities Shackleton presents are “enormous”.

The massive site and former buildings it is home to have previously been used by film crews and the MJM Group is keen to continue to offer it as a filming location.

It has also said its open to discussions from other firms about any business proposals they might have for Shackleton.

Mr McConville added: “Our proposal demonstrates significant benefits that will be attractive to the local community as a result of the MJM proposal to develop the site over the next number of years and also highlights the environmental benefits which arise as a result of this proposal,” he said.

The North’s political leaders have welcomed the sale of the site.

Mrs Foster said the sale together with the previously announced relocation of the North’s Department of Agriculture headquarters to Shackleton will enable the site to be brought back into use and should deliver a much need boost for the manufacturing sector in the North West.

The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness added: “This investment will deliver huge social and economic benefits for local people.

“A key aspect of MJM’s proposal was its commitment to providing significant community benefits, including a refurbished community building and outdoor recreation facilities. The site will now be accessible and become an important part of community life. The combination of private investment alongside DARD’s new headquarters bringing 600 jobs will be the economic injection the North West needs.”

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business