Cork and Clare job losses mark a ‘bad day for Munster’ – Heather Humphreys

‘Many opportunities locally’ says Minister for Business as Novartis and Molex lay off 820

Minister for Business Heather Humphreys said two jobs losses was ‘disappointing’. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Business Heather Humphreys said two jobs losses was ‘disappointing’. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The loss of 820 jobs at two multinational companies in counties Cork and Clare represented a “bad day for Munster”, Minister for Business Heather Humphreys said.

Speaking to reporters in the Shannon Free Zone in Co Clare, where electronic and plastic components manufacturer Molex is to lay off 500 staff, Ms Humphreys said she has received no briefings that suggests other large-scale job losses were coming down the line.

Separate plans to make 320 staff at pharmaceutical firm Novartis in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork were announced on Wednesday.

“This is a bad day for Munster – there is no doubt about that,” the Minister said. “Two jobs losses, which is disappointing, but nevertheless there are many job opportunities in this area.”

She said she was confident that new jobs would be found for the people affected by the decisions taken by the two companies.

Molex, an Illinois-based group that has operated in Shannon since 1971, said that following a review of the product lines manufactured at its Irish facility, it had decided it would close the plant by the end of next year. It said the majority of products made at the plant had “insufficient financial returns and growth potential”.

Molex workers declined to comment on the closure of the facility on Wednesday. It is estimated that the closure of the plant will result in the loss of annual salaries of €22.9 million from the local economy.

‘A great future’

Ms Humphreys met representatives of stakeholders including the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, the Shannon Group, the Department of Social Protection and third-level colleges to discuss the impact of the decision.

She said a plan would be put in place to help those affected, a skills audit would be carried out among the Molex workers and that a jobs fair will be staged to see what other opportunities were available in the region.

“There are jobs available in this locality… It was said in the room that this has happened at a much better time than 10 years ago when there was huge unemployment,” she said, noting that the jobless rate had fallen from 16 per cent to 5.2 per cent in a decade.

“I am absolutely convinced that there is a great future for this area.”

The Minister said she did not plan to meet the Molex workers during this visit to Co Clare. “I have to be very conscious that this is a very difficult and very emotional day for the workers and I’m sure the last thing they want to see is the Minister for Business coming to see them.”

Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Timmy Dooley said the job losses at Molex would be the equivalent of 7,000 to 8,000 being laid off at once in the Greater Dublin area.

“It is a devastating blow.”

Speaking in the Dáil, Sinn Féin Limerick TD Maurice Quinlivan said the news from Molex marked the largest job loss since Dell closed in Limerick 10 years ago. He said some of “those Dell workers are now caught up in another redundancy”.

He called for EU funding to be drawn down to support workers and said EU officials had described Ireland as “particularly bad at drawing down funds”.

Ms Humphreys said the chief executive of Molex had told her the decision could not be changed and that the Government would seek the best possible support from the European globalisation fund. She said “you don’t rush in to make an application” to the fund but that one would be planned properly.