Cigar plant in unemployment blackspot to close with loss of 38 jobs
A rural cigar plant is to close with the loss of 38 jobs just four months after the business was sold to an international buyer.
The jobs losses are at the ECMI plant which is located in Ballaghaderreen in Co Roscommon.
The plant has operated since 1978, exporting from Ireland to European markets. Viability is undestood to have come under strain due to the competitive environment in the cigar industry globally.
The cigar factory was founded by local businessman Gerry O Dowd, who sold the company to Belgian cigar maker J Cortes last December.
ECMI said that the small scale of the Irish plant put it at a competitive disadvantage.
ECMI informed staff and the Ballaghaderreen Chamber of Commerce of the decision to cease operations on Thursday.
Local councillors grilled the Belgian representatives on their reasons for purchasing the plant only to close it within months.
Unemployment in the Ballaghaderreen area is four times the national average and the town has a population of just 3,000.
Local councillor Pat Towen said there was considerable anger among the local community, adding that the plant closure would have "a devastating effect" on local businesses.
Cllr Towen claimed that the community had been left behind by central Government.
"This is a huge blow for the area," the Independent TD for the area, Michael Fitzmaurice, said. "I will be looking to meet with management to see if we can get these jobs back because we just can't keep haemorrhaging jobs in the west of Ireland."