Fears grow for Monaghan Poultry jobs


Fears are growing for the security of 300 jobs at Monaghan Poultry following the decision by the Department of Agriculture to re-impose a suspension on the plant's licence to operate.

The Department said it originally suspended the licence last Monday because the plant was in breach of hygiene regulations. It was reopened on a trial basis on Wednesday but the company failed again to meet the regulations and the suspension was re-imposed, according to the Department.

The suspension was still in place yesterday evening amid concerns in Monaghan that any long-term suspension of production could fatally undermine the company, leading to 300 job losses.

"Longer-term consideration will have to be given by the Department of Agriculture to the future of the licence approval of the plant," a Department of Agriculture spokeswoman said yesterday.

She said, however, that meetings with management at the company were planned. The company declined to comment on the situation last night.

Union officials met management yesterday in an effort to save the jobs and help the plant resume operations.

SIPTU's Monaghan branch secretary, Mr Jim Mullary, said closure of the plant would have grave consequences for the local economy.

"The impact of the loss of this company, if it was to happen, would be huge. As well as the direct employees, there is the indirect dependency on the company," he said.

Around 100 farmers and growers supply the company. But he said the company may need capital investment.

"It is something that the company hasn't had over the years and that is probably required," he added.

Every opportunity should be explored to get the company back in business, Mr Mullary said.

"Nothing can be ruled out in relation to supporting a mechanism which will resolve the difficulty," he added.

Sinn FΘin Cavan/Monaghan TD Mr Caoimhgh∅n ╙ Caolβin has called for State aid for the plant, which, he said, was not in a position to make the large investment needed to fully comply with stringent EU requirements. He described the further suspension of production at Monaghan Poultry, which he called a mainstay of the economy in the region, as a "devastating blow".

"I am calling on the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Joe Walsh, and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Harney, to intervene directly. They should work with the company, with SIPTU and with the IFA (Irish Farmers' Association) to put together a rescue package and provide direct financial aid to ensure that the plant is fully compliant with all regulations and directions," he said.