Calls for Minister to come to rescue
The loss of 38 jobs at Exclusive Cigar Manufacturers in Ballaghaderreen has stunned the local community. Pressure is now mounting on Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor to lead a jobs recovery in the town.
The cigar-manufacturing factory has been in existence in the town for forty years, having opened in 1978.
For years it was run by well-known local businessman Gerry O’Dowd and was a significant and reliable employment provider in the area.
The company only changed hands three months ago but now the new owners have indicated that they are moving operations to Sri Lankia.
Politicians were quick to react to the news. Fine Gael Senator Maura Hopkins and Cllr. Liam Callaghan met with management at the company last Friday.
Senator Maura Hopkins said: “J. Cortes’ management advised us that they are making plans to move their newly-acquired cigar manufacturing operations from Ballaghaderreen to one of their existing plants in Sri Lanka. 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 company has said it wishes to engage in consultation with staff before issuing redundancy notifications from May 15th. They also claim the purpose of this consultation is to explore any alternatives to the proposed closure of the factory which would result in the redundancy of all 38 employees.
Senator Hopkins has been in touch with Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor in relation to the 38 job losses and the negative impact it will have on them and the town of Ballaghaderreen.
“I have made it very clear to the Minister that we need strong leadership from her and her Department in order to secure continued or alternative employment for these 38 workers.”
Senator Hopkins has also spoken with Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar in relation to state supports and re-training options that his Department can provide.
Senator Hopkins called on all state agencies along with Roscommon County Council now prioritise the town of Ballaghaderreen.
Describing the job losses as a huge jobs blow to the region, Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice said he is seeking a meeting with management of the plant to find out what their exact plans are for the closure and for the premises going forward.
“The fact that the redundancies will come into effect starting as early as May 15th gives little time for the planned consultation with the employees at the plant” he noted.
Deputy Fitzmaurice added: “The closure of one of the biggest private employers in West Roscommon is a huge shock to the economy of the area and a massive blow to the 38 people involved.
“I am calling on jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor to make an immediate statement on the matter. I will also be asking that Enterprise Ireland and the IDA prioritise the Ballaghaderreen area for alternative and additional employment as soon as possible.”