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Locals reeling as 124 bakery jobs axed in rural Gaeltacht

ALMOST 70pc of the 189-strong workforce of a bakery in a rural Donegal Gaeltacht was axed yesterday.

Staff at the Irish Agricultural Wholesale Society (IAWS)-owned Gallagher's Bakery in Ardara, Co Donegal, were reeling in shock yesterday evening after learning that 124 jobs were to go, with the closure of the frozen food end of the business.

The future for the remaining 65 workers is hanging in the balance as attempts are being made to sell the "fresh" end of the business, which will at least save 40 of the 65 remaining jobs.

A statement from the company said negotiations were at an advanced stage with third parties.

Out of the 65 remaining jobs, 25 employees are expected to be redeployed within the company when the existing frozen operation is transferred to the new Grange Castle facility of IAWS in City West, Dublin.

The remote location of the plant, deep in south-west Donegal, and rising production costs, were being cited as the main reasons for the jobs losses.

"Unfortunately the 'frozen' business is not sustainable in the long term. Its position has been under review for some time and we have now arrived at this decision which has been taken with great regret," said the bakery's managing director Declan Gallagher in a statement. Outside the plant yesterday evening, shocked workers, some in tears, reacted to the bombshell.


"Our jobs are on the line here. It is part of my life, so it is," said one angry woman, whose late husband had worked at the bakery for 34 years.

Father and son John and Liam Whyte said that emigration was all that was left now for young people in the area.

"There was real gloom inside. They are just making jobs for Dublin. It has been busy here. Emigration -- that will be the impact on Ardara," said John Whyte. Fitter Liam Whyte (27) described the job losses as "a massive blow" to Ardara and the surrounding areas.

"I took a job here because I wanted to stay here but we have no choice now but to emigrate. There's nothing else for us around here," he said.

Speaking outside the plant, local councillor and election candidate Thomas Pringle (Independent) said the loss to the wider community was immeasurable.

"People here have given loyal service and should expect better. Its loss is devastating; Gallagher's Bakery is probably the biggest employer in the entire constituency."

Meanwhile, 150 workers at Co Mayo's largest employer, Baxter Healthcare, are to be temporarily laid off because of a contaminated production line.

The decision to lay off up to one-tenth of its workforce for four months from Monday was made after it emerged that a number of kidney dialysis products had been contaminated.

An investigation is under way into the causes of the contamination, which involves the presence of endotoxins in peritoneal dialysis solutions.

Baxter has informed the European Medicine Agency that it cannot guarantee the production of endotoxin-free solutions from the affected production line in the short term. A compensation deal will be voted on in the coming days.

Irish Independent