Pat Dougan, the Mackies boss who welcomed President Clinton, dies aged 84

Mackies chief executive the late Pat Dougan and president Bill Clinton pictured at the west Belfast factory in December 1995. Photo: Pacemaker Belfast
Gary McDonald Business Editor

PATRICK (Pat) Dougan, one of the north's most high-profile businessmen and entrepreneurs of the 1990s, and who famously hosted US president Bill Clinton at Mackies in Belfast in 1995, has died at his home in Magherafelt. He was 84.

A corporate colossus in his day, Dougan had an impressive track record which included investment in companies like Sperrin Metals in his native south Derry and then, under his chairmanship, Dungannon screening giant Powerscreen enjoyed record growth and profits before he took a golden handshake.

He came out of 'retirement' in 1993 to launch a rescue bid of the debt-ridden Mackies in the heart of an unemployment blackspot in west Belfast.

In its pomp Mackies employed 7,000 people, but despite £30m in assistance from the taxpayer, it was haemorrhaging money by the time Dougan was called in to take control.

A year later he floated the company on the London stock market at 180p a share (later this more than doubled to a high of 380p), and when President Clinton visited in late 1995, Mackies and Dougan were the darlings of the local business world and the Northern Ireland Office.

But just two years later the manufacturing business posted a loss and Dougan stepped down in March 1997 assuring shareholders: "It is my view the company is now on a sound footing."

A month later share dealing in Mackies was suspended as the company revealed losses of more than £7m, and in 1999 it was forced to call in the receivers.

Wealthy entrepreneur Dougan kept a lower profile for a number of years, but until his passing last month was still listed as an active director of Moyola Estates Ltd in south Derry.

He was predeceased by his wife Mary, and is father of Paul, Adrian, Eimear, Ciara and the late Deirdre, brother of John, Kathleen (Regan) and the late Francie, Brendan and Eithne.

Following requiem mass in Our Lady of the Assumption in Magherafelt, he was buried in the cemetery at St John, Milltown.

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