Seanad Éireann - Volume 182 - 02 February, 2006
Dr. Mansergh Dr. Mansergh
Dr. Mansergh: I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Tim O’Malley, to the House. The loss of its last manufacturing plant is a bad blow for Carrick-on-Suir, which is a medium-sized provincial town. There are other manufacturing plants not too far from the town, but I am talking about the town itself. SRAM Ireland, which manufactures bicycle components, announced earlier this week that it intends to discontinue its assembly and distribution operations at Carrick-on-Suir. The company probably located in the town in the first instance because a famous cyclist, Mr. Seán Kelly, is a native of the locality. A total of 53 jobs — 31 permanent and 22 temporary — will be lost as a result of SRAM Ireland’s decision. I understand that 11 employees who are involved in co-ordinating operations will move to Waterford.
Carrick-on-Suir, which is a RAPID town, has an unemployment rate of 14%, which is well above the national average of just over 4%. I do not want to paint too bleak a picture of towns like Carrick-on-Suir, which have seen a great deal of progress. Similar problems were faced in Tipperary approximately three years ago, when Pall Corporation announced it was dispensing with approximately two thirds of its operation. We know from experience that it is not easy to replace manufacturing jobs in such locations, unfortunately.
The industrial development agencies should reconsider their approach to certain towns. Circumstances have changed in the past three years as the populations of towns like Carrick-on-Suir and Tipperary have grown quite rapidly and their infrastructure has improved. Both towns are on the railway line between Limerick and Waterford. Carrick-on-Suir is quite close to Waterford, just as Tipperary is quite close to Limerick and the rest of the Shannon region.
South Tipperary County Council recently announced that it plans to develop some industrial units on recently acquired IDA Ireland lands. The Mill River business park in Carrick-on-Suir is quite vibrant. It has been suggested that Treasury Holdings has a long-term plan of conducting some major development in the Carrick-on-Suir area, just across the border in County Kilkenny, but no final decision has been taken on the matter.
I would like the Minister of State to outline the plans of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the agencies for which he is responsible to assist those who will be most affected by the closure of SRAM Ireland. What other employment possibilities exist for them? IDA Ireland and Forfás should be encouraged to look again at towns which one fears they might almost have written off. There are a number of industrial plants in Cashel, for example, which is smaller than both Carrick-on-Suir and Tipperary. There is nothing inherently implausible about attracting employment to such places, particularly as our cities become more congested. Places like Carrick-on-Suir with unemployment well above the national average deserve the particular attention of the Government. There was a political consensus in the county that Carrick-on-Suir should be considered along with Tipperary town for decentralisation. Obviously decentralisation would not help directly those involved in the SRAM closure but it would help build up the town further. Towns of that size should be looked at again from the point of view of promoting them as they have become much more attractive because of Government investment in schooling, sports facilities, cultural facilities and the growth of housing around them.
Mr. T. O’Malley Mr. T. O’Malley
Mr. T. O’Malley: I thank Senator Mansergh for raising this matter on the Adjournment.
On Tuesday last, 31 January 2006, SRAM Corporation announced to its staff that it would cease operations in Carrick-on-Suir with the loss of 53 permanent and temporary jobs. Some 11 permanent staff will be retained in distribution support activities and finance. The redundancies are being attributed to ongoing cost pressures and falling sales. The company had informed IDA Ireland of its decision earlier in the day. The company intends to end manufacturing production and distribution activities at the Carrick-on-Suir site and transfer the remaining employees, who are involved in support activities, to new offices in Waterford city.
The role of FÁS, the State training agency, will be particularly important in assisting those who are to lose their jobs. The agency will, as a matter of urgency, make contact with the management and staff of the company in order to outline the support services that FÁS can provide, particularly advice and training opportunities for the workforce. Finding alternative employment for the workers affected will be a priority for the State development agencies. IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland as well as FÁS will play their part in developing a way forward.
The present IDA strategy for south Tipperary is to concentrate future economic development in Clonmel by developing the town as a first class location for overseas investment. This strategy has been agreed with the South Tipperary County Development Board. At a meeting of Carrick-on-Suir Town Council last year, the agency’s plans for south Tipperary and Waterford city were outlined to the council. The need for Carrick-on-Suir to find a way to link into the economic growth centres of Clonmel and Waterford was also underlined.
Carrick-on-Suir is not being neglected. The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment met a delegation from the town council last year. He then met with FÁS and the agency agreed to increase its level of engagement with the long-term unemployed in the town. The process, which commenced last October, will continue throughout 2006.
While the main focus is on Waterford and Clonmel, there are knock-on benefits in sectors such as supply, distribution and transport thus creating further investment and employment opportunities for people in surrounding areas including Carrick-on-Suir. Clearly, Carrick-on-Suir can benefit from its close proximity to both Waterford and Clonmel. The largest single IDA job creation project in 2004 was Guidant with a 1,000 job expansion project in Clonmel and the company will be looking to recruit approximately 200 staff per year, graduates and non-graduates, for the next five years.
The development of community-based enterprise centres is a crucial part of the drive to create new regional enterprise. Enterprise Ireland provided support of €54,852 in 1998 for the setting up of the enterprise centre in Carrick-on-Suir. This centre has been sold to a private developer and the proceeds of that sale have been invested in a new community resource centre for the town. The community enterprise centre is incorporated into a state-of-the-art resource centre. A high-quality training facility is at the heart of the community enterprise centre and this facility should bring long-term benefits to the town.
I assure Senator Mansergh that the State development agencies, under the auspices of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, will continue to work closely together and with the county development board, as well as participating in the special working groups set up in October 2004 by the county manager of Tipperary South to deal with job creation issues in the towns of Carrick-on-Suir and Tipperary.
Seanad Éireann 182 Job Losses.