Varadkar says Ballaghaderreen ‘very much on radar’ after job losses

Cigar plant will close in May and move operations to Sri Lanka with loss of 38 jobs

Ballaghaderreen cigar-manufacturing plant ECMI will close in May and move its operations to Sri Lanka with a loss of 38 jobs. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Ballaghaderreen cigar-manufacturing plant ECMI will close in May and move its operations to Sri Lanka with a loss of 38 jobs. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

 

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has said Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon is “very much on the radar” after news this week of 38 job losses in the town.

Cigar-manufacturing plant ECMI will close in May and move its operations to Sri Lanka with a loss of 38 jobs.

The majority of the 38 employees are local people, meaning the closure will have a large impact on the town with a population of less than 3,000.

It is understood the company is moving its operations to an existing plant in Sri Lanka in order to rationalise the business and save on wage costs after being bought by a large Belgian company in January.

Speaking on Sunday, Mr Varadkar said it was a “very significant blow to the town, a major employer”.

He said the Department of Social Protection will next week “talk to the employers, go into the factory, make sure everyone has their public service cards and make sure everyone is aware of their entitlements”.

The department will be informing employees not only of their social protection benefits, but also things like “back to enterprise, set up a new business, to go back to education, back to education retraining and also the other vacancies in the area”.

When asked if the State should be doing more to help the town given the previous loss of 200 jobs due to the closure of Dawn Meats in 2008, Mr Varadkar said:

“One of the projects I was involved in, in my time as Minister for Transport ensuring there was a bypass for the town, so there has been investment in transport.

“The national broadband plan as it develops will be of benefit to the whole area.

“It’s certainly a town that has difficulties but I don’t think it’s a town that people think should be forgotten, so it’s very much on the radar here”.

Union representatives from Siptu were meeting with the company on Friday to discuss the issue as a consultation process gets underway.

Redundancy notifications will be issued on May 15th.

Fine Gael Senator Maura Hopkins told The Irish Times locals felt misled by the new owners, saying: “With the new acquisition and their stated public intention for a smooth transition of ownership back in January, we were led to believe that the future of this facility was secure.

“These hopes now have been dashed by this news.”