Senator Maura Hopkins has called on state agencies and government departments to properly prioritise the town of Ballaghaderreen following the news that the ECMI Plant is set to close.
Commenting on the closure Maura Hopkins said “it is a very difficult time for the 38 people who are losing their jobs and their families. The cigar manufacturing company has been in existence in Ballaghaderreen for almost 40 years and has provided important long-term local employment.”
Both Senator Hopkins and local Fine Gael Cllr. Liam Callaghan met with management at the Cigar Manufacturing company this morning (Friday). After the meeting Senator Hopkins stated that “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. They also told us that representatives from SIPTU are meeting with management today to discuss plans for employees due to this decision.”
“This news is very disappointing and disheartening because J. Cortes company acquired ECMI on 18th January of this year and 12 weeks later they tell us they are moving operations to 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”.
“In a statement issued by the company yesterday, they claim that they wish 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. However, having met with management this morning, it is very difficult for us to understand how this consultation can be successful when we have been informed that they are moving operations to Sri Lanka.”
“My focus now is to do everything possible to support these employees. I have spoken at length with Minister for Jobs, Mary Mitchell O’Connor yesterday evening (Thursday) in relation to these 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.”
“I have 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 continued “all of the state agencies (IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Local Enterprise Offices) along with Roscommon County Council need to properly prioritise the town of Ballaghaderreen. The town has suffered significant job losses over the past number of years. This must be recognised. There needs to be additional incentives available to businesses to make it more attractive for them to set up in areas which have been identified as economically weak such as Ballaghaderreen and North Roscommon.”