Job losses at Hillsborough Castle

Hillsborough Castle in Co Down. Credit: Historic Royal Palaces/PA

33 jobs are set to be lost at Hillsborough Castle.

The 100-acre site is the Queen’s official residence in Northern Ireland and is managed by Historic Royal Palaces.

On Wednesday it was confirmed a consultation process had been started over proposed redundancies.

Financial strain caused by the coronavirus pandemic has been given as the reason for the job losses at the major visitor attraction. 

A spokesperson said: “Like so many organisations dependent on tourism, our finances have been hit badly by the pandemic. The prolonged closure of the castle, Covid restrictions and the major downturn in international visits to Northern Ireland have left us facing a significant shortfall in our planned income this year and for the foreseeable future.

“We would not be proposing redundancies if we had not exhausted other all other avenues.  Since the pandemic hit, we have stopped all but essential expenditure, and have made full use of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme. At present, the castle is being supported by HRP’s charitable reserves, which we expect to be exhausted at the beginning of next year.  We continue to pursue all remaining avenues for additional funding and are enormously grateful for the continuing support of our members, donors and visitors. 

Laura McCorry, Head of Hillsborough Castle, said,

‘After a glorious opening year in 2019, 2020 could not be more different for Hillsborough Castle.

As a self-funded visitor attraction, our finances have been hit badly by the pandemic.  Like so many other organisations across Northern Ireland, the downturn in visitors and international tourism has had a devastating impact on us.

This is a difficult time for the tourism industry and we are determined to play our part in its recovery.  It is a matter of enormous regret that we can only do so if we act now to reduce our payroll costs and make the castle financially sustainable.

Our staff care passionately about the castle and their work. We are deeply sad that it has come to this.'

The consultation is to complete at the end of October.