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Luxury £130 million yacht causes a stir as it docks in Belfast

The Hampshire II yacht, which costs £130 million, caused a stir when it docked in Belfast on Friday. Picture by Justin Kernoghan

IF the Northern Ireland football team had wanted to stay at home for a bit of extra Euro 2016 preparation, then they could have had a warm-up game aboard one of the biggest yachts ever to dock in Belfast.

The luxury yacht Hampshire II, which cost £130 million, has several staterooms and boasts a helicopter deck which can be converted into a tennis court or football pitch.

It caused a stir as it docked in Belfast beside the SSE arena on Friday, with curious passers-by posing for photos throughout the weekend.

The presence of the 225 foot boat also prompted a protest by campaigners from the Stop the Drill group, which is objecting to the controversial exploratory oil drill in Woodburn Forest near Carrickfergus.

Hampshire II is owned by oil billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, the chairman and chief executive officer of the INEOS group, one of the largest petrochemical companies in the world.

His personal wealth is estimated to be £3.2 billion, giving him a position of 30 on this year's Sunday Times Rich List.

Earlier this year INEOS said it would begin exploring sites across northern England for shale gas, although the company has not connections to the Carrickfergus project.

The luxury yacht was delivered to Mr Ratcliffe in 2012 and boasts a bar on the upper deck, while a wine cellar below has an underwater sea viewing area.

Guests are also able to zip wire from the crow's nest at the top of the boat back to the bottom deck.

The company, formed in 1998 and now based in Switzerland, has 17,000 employees and operates in 16 countries worldwide, with a turnover of $40 million.

Mr Ratcliffe studied chemical engineering at the University of Birmingham, the same degree, at the same university, as former unionist MLA Basil McCrea.

The luxury yacht Hampshire II docked in Belfast at the weekend. Picture by Justin Kernoghan

The yacht includes a helicopter pad which can be converted into a football pitch. Picture by Justin Kernoghan

Campaigners from the Stop the Drill group protested at the presence of the luxury yacht. Picture from Facebook

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