As the DeLorean car factory in Belfast faces closure a look at the background to the troubled motor company.

It was once hoped that 20,000 DeLorean DMC sports cars would be sold to wealthy Americans bringing much need employment to West Belfast where they were manufactured. However, this was not to be as the company faced financial collapse just 18 months after production began. Workers at the plant now seem resigned to unemployment. 

Ahead of a meeting with management many of the workers were pessimistic about the future of their jobs with one employee telling RTÉ News,

We'll just have to see how it works out today at this meeting. Hopefully we'll get some sort of verdict tomorrow. After that, who knows? The dole again.

The verdict became clear when it was announced that there would be 1,100 job losses, with a further 1,500 put on short time. The future of the company was in doubt.

DeLorean first began production in Belfast in August 1980, providing a much needed job boost to the residents of West Belfast. 

Whatever the cost this new project would generate much needed pay packets.

John Zachary DeLorean was a former vice president at General Motors, a design engineer with a revolutionary new product, and one of the biggest names in the car industry. The UK government had invested £75 million in the plant, with DeLorean himself investing just £2 million of his own money. DeLorean's view was that his contribution was far more important than money,

I've got a pint of blood for every pound that the British have in it so I think we're all about even.

Defending the government investment in the company, DeLorean said that all the money was spent within the UK economy and had generated employment. 

From the outset, there were sceptics including the Industrial Development Authority in the Republic of Ireland.

But the British government were in up to their teeth and they rejected the critics complaints.

Former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Humphrey Atkins acknowledged that there were risks involved in the project, but placed his faith in the expertise of John DeLorean to make it a success. 

But the key to success of this project would have to be exports to the American market. It was there that DeLorean's hopes would fail or succeed. If exports dried up, then the company was doomed and that's precisely what happened.

This episode of 'Public Account' was broadcast on 2 February 1982.