Wednesday 23 January 2019

Shock for local OpenHydro staff

100 jobs to be lost as wave energy company winds up

OpenHydro in Greenore
OpenHydro in Greenore

Margaret Roddy

Workers at OpenHydro's Greenore plant were left reeling last Thursday when they were told that they were without a job.

The devastating news came after the High Court appointed provisional liquidators to OpenHydro Group Ltd. and OpenHydro Technologies following an application by Naval Energies.

The court agreed to the appointment after being told that OpenHydro's French parent company Naval Energies, which had invested €260m in the venture, was no longer prepared to support the wave energy enterprises.

Ms Justice Caroline Costello was told the OpenHydro Group was 'seriously insolvent' with debts of approximately €280m and needed €1m a week to survive.

OpenHydro was founded in 2006 by Dublin chartered accountants Brendan Gilmore and Donal O'Flynn, and was acquired by the French OpenHydro Group Naval Energies in 2013.

The French parent company blamed a 'deterioration in the market' and a 'lack of commercial prospects in the long term' for its decision.

The decision came as a huge shock to its workforce, including the 70 staff employed in the technical facility in Greenore as well as 30 in its Dublin offices.

Michael McAteer and Stephen Tennant of Grant Thornton, who were appointed as joint provisional liquidators met, with the Greenore workers on Thursday afternoon, breaking the bad news that the company is being wound up.

Local Green Party councillor Mark Dearey said that the workers have been left 'reeling' after being told that they are without a job when they went into work on Thursday.

'There are no redundancy payments beyond statutory and they have been left very exposed,' he said, calling on the IDA and Enterprise Ireland to take steps so that 'these highly skilled people won't be left without any jobs.'

Sinn Fein councillor Antóin Watters said it was 'very disappointing' to see that the operation which had promised so much was being closed.

'It's sad to see that a company which had employed so many people on the peninsula is gone.'

He also pointed to the knock-on effects of the closure, as the company did a lot of business through Greenore port as well as for a number of smaller suppliers in the county who have filed for creditor protection.

Deputy Peter Fizpatrick stated pledged that 'no stone will be left unturned to find alternative employment for the Open Hydro workers.'

Describing the closure as 'sad news', he said his 'heart goes out to the workers and their families at this difficult time.'

He had been in contact with his party colleagues, Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection, Regina Doherty and Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys.

The Argus