The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim has expressed her deep sadness following the announcement Wrightbus has entered administration.

The Ballymena-based company – one of the borough’s key employers – entered administration after extensive efforts to secure a new buyer for the firm were unsuccessful.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has been in close discussions with Wrightbus throughout recent weeks, offering advice and support as necessary.

Senior representatives of Council’s Manufacturing Taskforce, which is led up by Chief Executive Anne Donaghy, are also working closely with the firm and Invest NI.

Mayor Councillor Maureen Morrow said: “I am deeply saddened by this announcement and the loss of so many jobs.

“Following requests from elected members, a special council meeting will be held on Tuesday evening at 7pm to discuss the emerging situation.”

Chair of Council’s Economic Growth Committee, Councillor Gregg McKeen, said: “Today’s announcement is extremely worrying news for Ballymena, and Mid and East Antrim as a whole, and our thoughts are with all of those affected and their families.

“Wrightbus has been a key employer in Mid and East Antrim for generations and one of Northern Ireland’s leading businesses.

“As a Council, we will continue to give our full backing to efforts to protect jobs and provide the full support of our area’s Manufacturing Taskforce as the fight continues to protect this giant of Northern Ireland industry.”

Councillor Timothy Gaston, who has also been heavily engaged with Wrightbus on behalf of Council, said: “Today’s announcement was always the last resort.

“We are working with Wrightbus and other key partners to offer our full support to all affected by this process.

“Our area has suffered more than most in recent years, with the closures of JTI and Michelin in particular, but this is not the end of the road for Wrightbus.

“It is vital we all continue to work together to ensure the future of this world-leading company and its workforce, which for many of us includes family and close friends.

“Our citizens are resilient and as a Council we are fully committed to doing all we can to mitigate this announcement and providing our full support to those impacted.

“This borough has a track record of continuing to fight, even when people think it’s over, and we have helped companies to remain open or seek alternatives, including most recently the Kilroot and Ballylumford Power Stations, and the Michelin site.

“We will continue with this mindset in relation to Wrightbus.”

Cllr McKeen added: “We need full backing from right across the United Kingdom with everybody rallying right behind Wrightbus and its workers.

“Mid and East Antrim is proudly regarded as the engine room of the Northern Ireland manufacturing sector and despite the high-profile shocks of recent years, it’s a reputation we are actively building on through our Heathrow Hub bid and City Deal projects.

“It is absolutely crucial everything is done to ensure Wrightbus remains at the very heart of the future of Northern Ireland manufacturing.

“Today’s announcement will lead to a call for a review of investment through City Deal into the Mid and East Antrim area.”