Tuesday 28 January 2020

Quinn workers must get help

SHOCK and fear for the future will soon give way to anger and bitterness but there will be little point in blaming the Government or the regulator for a chain of events that began when Sean Quinn effectively mortgaged the company he had founded in a massive €3bn gamble.

The entrepreneur brought employment and prosperity to his native border heartland, but it was his own hubris that undermined it.

Now 900 jobs are to go, many of them in places that are highly dependent on the revenue from Quinn business.

Many of those who face redundancy are young, skilled workers whose sole expertise is in the insurance business. Most will find it exceedingly difficult to find work in areas that have traditionally suffered from high unemployment.

Meanwhile, the sale of Quinn Insurance was always on the cards after the appointment of administrators. In the words of a Quinn Group spokesman, the future of the firm will be best protected under new ownership.

The security of the 1,550 jobs that will remain, following the redundancies announced yesterday, will depend on the business priorities of the new owners, whoever they may be. More than 40 parties are reported to have expressed interest.

A buyer who is already operating in Ireland would probably seek to rationalise, which could mean even more job losses. A foreign buyer setting up here, possibly with an eye on the British market, may be the best prospect for employment in the future.

Thousands of others have lost their jobs in the recession, but there is something particularly tragic about this event.

The workers are direct victims of all the factors that have contributed to the economic collapse in the country as a whole: impetuosity, poor judgment, lack of regulation and massive, old-fashioned greed.

So, what is to become of the hundreds of Quinn employees who are to lose their jobs, and the businesses that depend on their salaries? There was little the Government could do as the regulator passed judgment on the company's inadequate reserves and the administrators went about their unpleasant task.

But it can make sure that the stricken workers will get some tangible support in the months ahead.

Think-tanks and task forces will not pay the mortgage.

Irish Independent

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