Senan Molony, Michael Brennan and Kathryn Hayes
THE massive fall-out from Dell's decision to axe two-thirds of its workforce in Limerick will continue for months and will have a knock-on effect for up to 6,000 jobs in the region, business figures predicted yesterday.
And the body which represents US firms in Ireland gave its starkest warning yet that there is even more bad news to come.
A spokesman for the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland told the Financial Times: "Other disinvestments in the multinational sector can be expected in the next 12 to 18 months."
CEO of Limerick Chamber of Commerce Maria Kelly last night called for a "high level" response from the Government immediately, as local businesses braced themselves for further casualties.
Staff at one of Dell's main suppliers claim that 400 workers were put on protective notice following Thursday's announcement, but the company has not commented.
"This is unfortunately one of the expected casualties from the Dell story. Unfortunately, we are going to see a few more of these but hopefully the numbers are going to come out a bit less than what everybody has been saying," said Ms Kelly.
"I think its more in the region of 5,000 to 6,000 jobs that we'd be concerned about . . . over the next 12 months."
According to Ms Kelly a task force is needed to deal with the "emergency situation" facing the mid-west. This should be "business led by people who understand the industry and what's required", she said.
"I certainly wouldn't have as much faith in a group of civil servants sitting around a table."
Meanwhile, IDA chief executive Barry O'Leary played down suggestions by Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea that 750 high-skill jobs could be created in Limerick if talks between the IDA and Dell were successful.
"We're trying to get them to do more higher valued activities but it would be wrong to speculate about numbers," he added.
Minister O'Dea said there was already a proposal for bringing high-value jobs to Limerick before the Cabinet, which would be looked on favourably.
According to the Limerick East Deputy, other countries were bidding for the jobs in research and customer service, but he believes Dell will be sympathetic to Limerick
Maria Kelly was also doubtful that a 750-job announcement would be made in the near future.
Limerick's Mayor Cllr John Gilligan last night claimed the Tanaiste Mary Coughlan did not understand what was happening in Limerick, and said there was no point in her coming to the city next week.
The Tanaiste was also amused of being "detached" from reality after a PrimeTime interview in which she was tackled about Government efforts to head off the Dell job cuts.
Leading Opposition figures suggested the Tanaiste was not addressing the shredding of thousands jobs nationwide with the seriousness the situation demanded.
Labour Limerick East TD Jan O'Sullivan said she did not believe that the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment did not have her "finger on the pulse".
Richard Bruton, Fine Gael's finance spokesman, said there were increasing complaints that the thee main economic Ministers of the State -- Taoiseach, Tanaiste and Minister for Finance -- were completely out of touch.
Meanwhile, over 20 recruitment companies based in Limerick and the mid-west have offered to assist people made redundant at Dell.
l The Irish Independent would like to clarify that Aramark Campbell Catering has no contract with Dell Computers as reported in the edition of Friday January 9 2009.