As I have stated previously, I was very disappointed at the company's unexpected announcement that it is to reduce its workforce by 250 persons at its Letterkenny facility in Donegal because of difficult market conditions and continuing efforts to reduce costs. The redundancies are proposed to be effected during the period 30 May 2003 to the end of July 2003. Meetings are to take place during the coming weeks between the company's management and employee representatives to discuss these matters in detail.
IDA Ireland will continue to maintain close contact with the company's representatives and will engage with them in their strategy for development and maintenance of their operations in Letterkenny. FÁS has already met with the company to discuss a detailed programme to assist the employees to find suitable alternative employment. Enterprise Ireland also met with the management of the company, on 29 April, to provide information on supports available to staff who may wish to explore the possibility of starting their own business.
Letterkenny has been a priority area in recent years for the State agencies under the auspices of my Department. Working together with local authorities and Letterkenny Institute of Technology, a significant amount of work has been undertaken to improve its attractiveness for investors. The recent decision to select Letterkenny as a gateway under the national spatial strategy will assist in promoting Letterkenny further.
A key development for Letterkenny is the construction of a new IDA Ireland 80-acre business park, which is nearing completion, and the availability of new, advanced buildings. This activity has resulted in an increased level of visits by potential investors and a number of companies are in active negotiation. Successful companies such as Prudential and PacifiCare continue to grow and both are actively recruiting in Letterkenny at the moment.
I am confident that the ongoing commitment of Government and the State agencies to regional development and the Objective One designation of the north-west, which facilitates the payment of much higher grant levels in the BMW region, will bear fruit in attracting additional overseas and indigenous investment to Donegal.