Wednesday 17 December 2014

Bruton under fire as last of 1,200 jobs are axed

Marese McDonagh

Published 15/08/2014 | 02:30

Minister for Jobs, Richard Bruton. Photo credit: Justin Mac Innes/Mac Innes Photography/The Department of the Taoiseach via Getty Images
Minister for Jobs, Richard Bruton. Photo credit: Justin Mac Innes/Mac Innes Photography/The Department of the Taoiseach via Getty Images

JOBS Minister Richard Bruton is under fire after a company which once employed 1,200 people in the same town axed the final 160 staff.

There was devastation in Carrick on Shannon yesterday as MBNA confirmed it was closing its call centre at what was once the biggest employer in Leitrim.

Minister Bruton promised that all the supports of the State would be made available to the workers affected on what was a "sad day" for those losing their job.

Local business people called for a financial services company to be located in the state of the art building with many saying a task force would be a waste of time.

MBNA sold a large share of the company to AvantCard in 2012, and the Minister stressed that there was no threat to that company's workforce of over 200 which is based on the same site. Ian O'Doherty, Chief Executive of MBNA, said the company had carried out a review which looked at number of options,including the potential sale of its Co Leitrim operation to a third party.

"Regrettably, this was not achievable and so we are proposing to close the operation," he said.

Mr O'Doherty said the company's business was now "UK-focused and serves UK customers, so we are proposing to align our resources to the market in which we operate."

Local business man and former Fine Gael TD and senator Gerry Reynolds said it was crucial that the IDA and the government locate a financial services centre in what as "a fantastic facility on the N4, just two hours from the M50".

Liam Farrell owner of Carrick Cineplex said it was hugely disappointing "given that at its zenith almost 1200 people were employed there".

He pointed out that the workforce had gradually been "whittled down" in recent years, adding that he was shocked to realise that only 160 remained on the payroll. "The challenge is to find a replacement. Task forces are a load of rubbish - that building is a fantastic facility in terms of IT, location and indeed the staff," he said.

Cllr Eugene Murphy said Mr Bruton needed to do something, adding: "We want action immediately but what we don't want a taskforce which would not achieve anything."

Mr Bruton said the news will come as a severe blow to the town, but he said his department will do whatever it can to assist the workers in finding new jobs.

However, the minister said the job losses "shows that we are still an economy in transition." He said his thoughts are with the workers who lost their jobs.

Irish Independent

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