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Job losses for Ballaghaderreen as cigar plant moves operations to Sri Lanka

Business bought by Belgian company which is closing plant with 38 local employees

Exclusive Cigar Manufacturers Ireland opened in Ballaghaderreen in 1978 and has been a large local employer since. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

A cigar-manufacturing plant in Co Roscommon will close in May and move its operations to Sri Lanka with a loss of 38 jobs for the town of Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon.

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.

Exclusive Cigar Manufacturers Ireland (ECMI) opened in 1978 under the name Villager and has been a large local employer since.

The business was sold to a large Belgian tobacco company called J Cortès in January of this year.

A statement on the J Cortès website published on January 18th says: “ECMI has shown considerable volume growth and will benefit from the expertise and size of J. Cortès.”

However, in a press release issued on Thursday, the company said it was beginning a consultation process with employee representatives before issuing redundancy notifications on May 15th.

“The purpose of the consultation process is to explore any alternatives to the proposed closure of the factory potentially resulting in a redundancy of all 38 employees of ECMI Ltd,” the statement said.

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.”

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.

Union representatives from Siptu were meeting with the company on Friday to discuss the issue.