IFI factory grinds to a halt after 37 years
This weekend marks the end of an era in Arklow as the IFI factory grinds to a final, irrevocable halt after 37 non-stop years of fertiliser production for the home and export markets.
The fate of The Fert was sealed two weeks ago on October 15 when the joint shareholders, the Government and ICI, decided to put the troubled company into liquidation.
This means that over 650 employees are set to lose their jobs in IFI's three productions plants, Cork and Belfast as well as Arklow, with a third or 195 of those jobs being wiped out in Arklow.
Local TDs and councillors are putting pressure on the Government to treat the Arklow factory as a stand-alone plant, free from the financially ailing Cork facility, but the workers at Arklow are not optimistic that Arklow factory can or will be saved.
In fact the workers are bracing themselves for the inevitability of being put out on the dole over the coming weeks after, in many cases, giving their entire working lives to the service of IFI Arklow.
Production of nitrogen fertiliser at Arklow is due to end this evening after all the stocks of ammonia have been used up and then the last of the plants will be shut down for good.
And it is understood that on Friday the first batch of employees, 100 or half the workforce, will be be temporarily let go awaiting the appointment of the liquidator in a week's time.
Cllr. Pat Fitzgerald, himself an employee of IFI for 36 years, described the final closure of the factory this week as the end of an era in Arklow. 'The workers are feeling very sad over what is happening, they are devastated and demoralised'
'Many of them have given their entire working lives to the plant and IFI has helped to raise many families in Arklow over the last 37 years' he said.
'It has given a lot of good employment to people from Arklow and a wide area of South Wicklow'