Quinn workers claim €1.5m lost in UK and North a day

Tue, Apr 20, 2010, 01:00

THE UK and Northern Ireland business of Quinn Insurance is losing €1.5 million a day as a result of the suspension imposed by the Financial Regulator, which is putting as many as 3,000 jobs at risk, workers’ representatives said last night.

Speaking in advance of a meeting with political representatives including Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan in Blanchardstown yesterday, David O’Donnell, a spokesman for the Quinn Insurance Employee Committee said that “no business can sustain” the losses being incurred by Quinn Insurance’s UK and Northern Ireland business. The company is unable to write new business to those markets, and can’t keep paying people “to sit on phones and turn away business”, he said.

In addition to the 1,430 employees directly employed in Blanchardstown and Navan by this section of the business, service providers are also indirectly affected, bringing the total number of jobs at risk to about 3,000, he warned. The committee estimates that the cost to the State of losing the 600 jobs relating to the UK business from the Blanchardstown office would amount to €1.5 million a month.

Mr O’Donnell said that the employees embrace the decisions taken by the Financial Regulator, but the time has come to “move forward with affirmative action”.

The purpose of last night’s meeting in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blanchardstown was to seek the support of Mr Lenihan and other political representatives including Labour party finance spokeswoman Joan Burton and Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald.

Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Minister Lenihan said that the the Financial Regulator is working through the “whole question of the preservation of the profitable element of the UK market” with the administrator and the UK authorities.

However, Ms Burton said that although she appreciated that Mr Lenihan had talked “frankly” with the members of the committee, she expressed disappointment that there “doesn’t seem to be any final outcome in relation to the profitable lines of the UK being reopened”.

“I’m sorry the Minister wasn’t really able to give any great comfort that there would be action any time soon,” she said.

The committee members said that they were cautiously optimistic following the meeting, and encouraged by the responses from all of the political representatives.

In a statement last night, Ms McDonald said that the administration process must prioritise the maintenance of jobs. “Quinn Insurance and the Quinn group in general are major employers in Ireland. We are currently in the midst of a jobs crisis and the Government has its head in the sand on the issue,” she said.