A crowd of approximately 1,000 people turned out in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, last night to voice fears over a foreign takeover of the company that used to be Quinn Glass, one of the biggest employers in the region.
Organised by Concerned Irish Citizens (CIC), an organisation that is pro-Seán Quinn, the former billionaire who will emerge from bankruptcy on Friday, the community hall was packed with locals who were unanimous in their belief that the preferred bidder, Spanish company Vidrala, should not be allowed to take over the glass manufacturing company.
Quinn Glass, which was rebranded as Encirc last year, employs more than 400 people at its plant in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, Mr Quinn’s home town.
Local residents fear the takeover will result in job losses despite attempted reassurances from Aventas, which took over the Quinn Group four years ago.
Glass workers had hoped a local takeover could be concluded on the lines of a similar arrangement executed by Quinn Business Retention Company (QBRC) company – comprising former Quinn Group executives and local business figures – which took over the Quinn construction industry supply and packaging businesses before Christmas.
A letter from management at QBRC was read out to the meeting, stating that they could not attend because they were still negotiating with the sellers of the glass company. QBRC had “some engagement in relation to the future of the glass business”, but had signed a confidentiality agreement in relation to the negotiations, the letter stated.
QBRC said it was willing to meet with those attending the meeting and to convey local feelings about the sale to the sellers. Speaker after speaker condemned the current parent company of the former Quinn Group, Aventas, and called for the glass business to be retained locally. “The people and the local community want local involvement in this business. They won’t people from outside the country choosing how their lives can be ran. We have to have local involvement,” said local businessman Freddie Walsh, who chaired the meeting.
Local parish priest Fr Gerry Comiskey said Aventas were a “busted flush in the area” and locals were weeping over the company that the Quinn Group had become in their hands. He contrasted the management of QBRC with that Vidrala.
“The members of QBRC are from this area, they live and work among us, they know what it was like in this area before Quinn started to turn soil into the brass in our pockets”.
Businessman Martin Maguire said Aventas had broken promises in the past with “alarming regularity”. The manufacturing business had been broken up despite promises that it would not be. He expressed fears that the Quinn Glass will be sold to a company which will place “no value on local people, local jobs, the local community or the local area”.
He spoke of fears that Vidrala might move the glass manufacturing base to the Quinn Glass plant in Elton, England, .
Aventas chief executive Paul O’Brien told Shannonside Radio yesterday there had been no credible bid from local interests.