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McNicholas wins Northern Ireland contract
Antrim-based firmus energy, which has the licence to bring natural gas to ten towns and cities outside the greater Belfast area, has announced that McNicholas, based in Mallusk, has retained the contract for constructing and maintaining the firmus energy network in a new £multi-million, three-year deal.

The contract was advertised in EU Journal and eleven companies from across the UK and Ireland forwarded an expression of interest.

Mark Prentice general manager for firmus energy said, "we have already been working with McNicholas for three years and have found them to be very professional in terms of how the work is managed and carried out.

"McNicholas demonstrated to a panel of professionals, including Long O Donnell Associates Ltd, that they had the capability and expertise to deliver the skills and manpower to successfully carry out this contract which is bringing the financial and environmental benefits of natural gas to thousands of homes and businesses across Northern Ireland.

"They are also committed to training both existing employees and those new to the industry. This is particularly important as our licence is for an area where natural gas hasn't been available before and it is vital that these new skills are taught to enable this industry to grow and flourish."

Sean McNicholas, Managing Director of the McNicholas Networks Division, said, "This is a fantastic contract to retain. At a time when there is a general downtown in the construction industry, this will help secure local jobs and keep the skill-base in Northern Ireland.

"In addition, it will allow us to continue to work with firmus energy and the Department of Education and Learning (DEL) to help develop a local workforce through the Bridge to Employment scheme.

"This programme's main objective is to provide customised training to equip particularly long term unemployed people with the skills necessary to compete for new employment opportunities on an equal basis with others.

"We have already completed a cycle of this 12-week intensive course and have been delighted with the calibre and integrity of the individuals who, thanks to this contract, now have a good future with McNicholas."

firmus energy has been working hard to bring the cost and environmental benefits of natural gas to customers in Derry, Limavady, Coleraine, Ballymoney, Ballymena, Antrim, Craigavon, Lurgan, Banbridge and Newry, with plans to connect customers in Armagh and Portadown later this year.