It gives me no pleasure to raise the matter of a further factory closure in Tipperary town. Last Friday morning, Namco Ireland Limited announced the closure of its manufacturing plant with the loss of 42 jobs. Perhaps the loss of 42 jobs is not very important to the Government, taking into account some of the job announce ments recently made by the Tánaiste. However, in comparative terms, the loss of 42 jobs in Tipperary town is the final nail in the coffin of a town which has staggered from one closure to another.
As the company has stated, its share of the traditional games market has declined in the past few years as the technology gap between commercial and consumer games closed dramatically. This has arisen from the huge penetration of personal computers and highly sophisticated games software. Apart from job losses in other parts of the county, the litany of losses sustained in Tipperary town include the 7-Up soft drinks company, O'Doherty and O'Dwyer, Irish Pride bakery, Mass Mutual and Tambrands Ireland Limited. Mass Mutual has been replaced by Continental Promotions and Tambrands by Pall Corporation. However, these replacement companies, welcome as they are, are still in the process of getting into full employment mode, leaving a large number of unemployed people in Tipperary town. It is a shame that during this economic boom and the Celtic tiger, good workers who have excellent relations with their employers are forced to travel to Clonmel or Limerick which necessitates a 50 mile round trip.
Last Friday morning I met with the directors of Namco, including Michael Nevin and John McKenzie, the managing director and financial controller of Namco Europe respectively, and Patrick Pickham, the general manager of the Tipperary plant. I am pleased they have agreed to allow their facility to be marketed by the IDA. I do not have to tell the Minister, as the Tánaiste has already issued a statement, that this is one of the most excellent facilities available to the IDA and the Government. It is a magnificent facility and I thank the outgoing company for maintaining it. It has installed a security system to ensure the factory is not vandalised. It has ensured the continuation of heating, lighting and cleaning so that when the Minister, through the IDA, brings in a prospective customer they will see an excellent facility. Any prospective company can start up there immediately.
I ask the Government to give a commitment that Tipperary town will be given the priority it deserves from IDA promotions in Europe and North America. Nothing less will satisfy the people of Tipperary town and those of us who represent them. The company agreed, in consultation with me, to enter into meaningful and, hopefully, satisfactory negotiations with union representatives. I hope they will agree to a fair redundancy package to compensate for the loss of jobs. Many employees have worked for this company for more than 20 years. The closure has created and will create problems for Tipperary town. Every stop needs to be pulled out so Tipperary town will not be neglected and left on the industrial heap by the Government or the IDA. This closure is not the fault of workers or the company.