Donegal suffered the latest in a series of employment setbacks yesterday when 560 workers at a US-owned pharmaceuticals plant were told they are to lose their jobs.
Minister for Enterprise Micheal Martin described the company’s decision to close the Donegal town plant in 18 months as a “devastating blow” for the area and he promised a concerted effort to find replacement jobs.
Hospira blamed the decision on excess manufacturing capacity as well as the high cost of manufacturing in Ireland. Products made at the factory are to be manufactured instead in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.
Siptu, which represents workers at the factory, described the closure announcement as a “bolt from the blue”. The union’s Donegal branch secretary, Sean Reilly, said there had been no expectation that management was planning such a move. “The workers are devastated by the news.”
Donegal Sinn Féin Councillor Thomas Pringle has expressed his anger at the planned closure of the Hospira Plant in Donegal Town and the devastation caused to hundreds of families in the South Donegal Area.
Councillor Pringle said, “I note the Manager has thanked the workers for their tremendous loyalty and hard work and says the closure is due to the high costs in Ireland and OEworld economics’. However, this is very little comfort to the people of Donegal.
“How many years will Hospira stay in Costa Rica before moving on and leaving a similar trail of destruction?
“The closure is an indictment of successive Governments attitude to Donegal. Sinn Féin has constantly raised the lack of industrial development in the West and South of the County and called for all sectors to work together in drawing up and implementing an Action Plan.
“Hospira/Abbots was the last IDA backed development in this area -- and that was 25 years ago. Nothing since. We have Government Ministers in this county who should be hanging their heads in shame -- the highest unemployment rate in the country, no investment, no industrial promotion.
“As far as they are concerned the South and West of Donegal County might as well be in the middle of the Atlantic.”
Meanwhile, up to 250 workers will lose their jobs when the US technology group Quantum closes its plant in Dundalk, County Louth. Staff have been told that the operations are likely to be transferred to eastern Europe.
Quantum makes digital tape drives in Dundalk, which are used to store information on computer files. Staff were told last Friday that the group now plans to outsource these operations.
“Quantum must make every effort to operate as cost-effectively as possible in the highly-competitive storage industry,” a company statement said.