THE chairman of computer giant Intel has insisted there are no plans to slash its Irish workforce.
As the economic woes caused further heated exchanges in the Dail, Intel chief Craig Barrett helped ease uncertainty in the hi-tech sector following the loss of almost 2,000 jobs at computer manufacturer Dell's Limerick facility.
Intel, which employs around 5,000 at its Leixlip hub, had recently announced a series of job cuts at certain plants. However, Mr Barrett yesterday confirmed the company has no immediate plans to slash either jobs or investment in Ireland.
"There is no immediate danger of job cuts in Ireland but nobody can predict the future. This is one of the worst recessions we have ever seen, so we will take it day by day," Mr Barrett told RTE News.
The chairman warned it was currently a "competitive environment" for all businesses and Intel must continue to invest in research and new products to remain successful.
Mr Barrett said Intel's manufacturing operation in Ireland remained competitive, as labour costs were less of an issue for the facility compared with other businesses.
In Brussels, Intel announced a major research drive at laboratories across Europe, including NUI Maynooth, with the formation of Intel Labs Europe.
The initiative, headed by Dr Martin Curley, Professor of Technology and Business Innovation at NUI Maynooth, will focus on software development and visual computing solutions.
Liam Aylward, Fianna Fail MEP, said: "This is vote of confidence by Intel in Ireland. This is a very strong and welcome message for our country at this difficult economic time. The message from Brussels today is that Ireland Inc is very much open for business."
However, even as this assurance was offered by one of the country's key employers, the national job cull continued.
Almost 40 jobs are to go after a Belfast financial company, ClearCo, last night announced it was closing.
The firm, which processed cheques for Bank of Ireland and AIB, blamed its decision on the decline in chequebook use.
The banks, which jointly established the company seven years ago, recently transferred their cheque processing operations to Dublin.
Meanwhile, staff at US electronic component manufacturer Molex, which employs 400 at its Shannon base, claim they were told of a 25pc job cull, while remaining staff will be asked to take a 5pc pay cut.