Disgraced car mogul DeLorean dies aged 80

JOHN DELOREAN, the disgraced US car mogul who offered Northern Ireland a false dream, has died it was announced last night.

He died in hospital in New Jersey, aged 80, from complications following a recent stroke. DeLorean will be remembered as

the man who offered Northern Ireland thousands of jobs at the height of the Troubles but who walked away with millions of euro of taxpayers' money.

His plans for a major car plant in west Belfast producing a revolutionary gull-winged, unpainted stainless-steel sports car did not live up to expectations.

Nevertheless the ill-fated car became, and remains a legend thanks to actor Michael J Fox and the Back to the Future films in which the car was the star.

In the late 1970s, the British Labour government of James Callaghan was seduced by DeLorean's dream. A car plant employing thousands in a Northern Ireland unemployment black-spot would be a "great psychological boost for Ulster" said then Northern Ireland Secretary Roy Mason. He added that it would be a hammer blow to the IRA. DeLorean was given £55m of taxpayers' money to set up later the subsidy-hating Conservative Government of Margaret Thatcher topped it up with another £30m.

But the grandiose scheme didn't work. Just 21 months and less than 9,000 cars after production started, the dream came crashing down.

Receivers were appointed and all but a handful of 2,700 workers were sent home and back to the dole.

The rest soon followed.

The car had been called the DMC 12 standing for DeLorean Motor Company 12, it was never said what happened to the first 11 models. In 1978 the British government had actually fought off competition which flamboyant John Zachary DeLorean told them they faced from around the world to secure his car plant.

DeLorean was accused of conspiring to sell £12.5m of cocaine to salvage his car venture after being arrested in an FBI sting operation.

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