The acquittal of six protestors who broke into a Raytheon plant in Northern Ireland sends the wrong message to US companies looking to invest in the country, a former government minister says.

The protesters were acquitted earlier this month of destroying equipment belonging to Raytheon in Derry in August 2006.

The six acted in protest at the use of Raytheon-made weapons in the Israel-Lebanon conflict.

Former culture minister Edwin Poots said the decision could prevent potential investors from setting up businesses in the area, the Derry Journal reports.

“Going into an office building, seizing computers and throwing them out of windows seems to me like an open and shut case of destroying property that belongs to other people,” he said.

“Whether or not there was a political motivation behind the actions of these protestors does not in any way alter the fact that what these individuals did sends out an extremely negative image of Northern Ireland to potential investors from the US.”

By staff writer