JMC Mechanical and Construction, a building and maintenance firm in Country Down, Northern Ireland, has closed with the loss of up to 140 jobs, shortly after a mystery visit by police, for which no explanation is available as yet.

The company was headquartered in Waringstown, but also had premises in Bleary and Lisburn. One of its main contracts was to provide maintenance services to Northern Ireland’s Housing Executive and several other social housing providers.

The family firm was run by James McCully and Bernadette McCully and had been founded in 2000. Local politicians said they were aware of the closure after being contacted by employees who feared they would lose pay. Sinn Féin assembly member John O’Dowd said: “Employees were called in and told they had no work. They were told they weren’t going to be paid for last week’s work and there was also a question mark over redundancy,  I already have a question in to the economy minister asking how his department are going to support and protect these workers.”

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive said: “We are sorry to hear that one of our contractors, JMC Ltd, has announced that it is entering liquidation. The company was the repairs contractor for our tenants in the Lisburn and Castlereagh area and was also the contractor for a number of improvement schemes across Lisburn and Castlereagh and the Belfast area.

“Our priority at this stage is to ensure minimal disruption to services for tenants and those planned maintenance improvement works which are on site.”

The Police Service Northern Ireland’s  Organised Crime Branch had searched JMC Mechanical and Construction Ltd premises shortly before the firm collapsed. It is understood these  were carried out in the yard at Bleary. It was said some computers were removed by the police. A police statement said no details were currently available.

Other reports say that as a result of the closure, a number of local people had been left without completed kitchens and bathrooms and were living in “third world conditions.”