Protecting 5,500 posts top priority, says Dempsey
THE Government last night insisted it was "fully committed" to protecting the 5,500 jobs at the insurance company of tycoon Sean Quinn.
Transport Minister Noel Dempsey said the Government's chief priority was to protect jobs in Quinn Insurance and also to protect policyholders.
"The regulator must do the job he has to do. The concern is that jobs in Quinn are protected in so far as they can be.
"The Government is fully committed to protecting jobs, that's number one and number two is our concern that policyholders are also protected," Mr Dempsey said at the opening of the Office of Public Work's headquarters in Trim, Co Meath.
Labour's finance spokeswoman Joan Burton last night welcomed the decision by Quinn Insurance to withdraw its opposition to the appointment of administrators to the company.
A prolonged legal battle between the Quinn Group and the Financial Regulator would not have been in the interests of either the policyholders or the employees, Ms Burton said.
The decision came a day after Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield -- at a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Economic Regulatory Affairs -- made no apologies for putting an administrator into Quinn Insurance.
The Labour spokeswoman said it was clear at Wednesday's meeting that Mr Elderfield was "not for turning".
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said last night: "It was essential he (the regulator) take that action because you can't have an insurance company that has a hole in its capital provision."
Senior insurance industry sources said it was "very unlikely" that many of Quinn Insurance's 2,800 jobs would be saved if the company was bought out by another insurer already operating in the Irish market.
Many of the Quinn Insurance jobs are customer service and call-centre jobs, work that most Irish insurers have outsourced to local companies or foreign-based outfits in countries like India.
"If the work is already being done for you in a contact centre here or in India, you would be able to scale that up without having to hire more people yourself," one pointed out.
Competitors buying up some or all of Quinn Insurance would more than likely absorb most of Quinn's core insurance work into their own teams, sources said.
"The Irish market is contracting, there is plenty of capacity there," one said.
According to Sean Quinn, the appointment of an administrator to Quinn Insurance put 5,500 jobs at risk in the overall Quinn Group, but the impact on the non-insurance jobs was unclear last night.