I propose to take Questions Nos. 279 to 281, inclusive, together.
The principal focus of engagement between the State and the overseas companies located here in Ireland is through IDA Ireland. That Agency keeps in regular contact with its client companies, to ensure that any concerns or issues can be addressed promptly, to seek to enhance opportunities for the companies, to embed and expand their operations here and to explore linkages and other wider economic benefits that can be developed. This process was, and remains, very active in the case of the three companies referred to in these questions.
In addition, I myself avail of opportunities to meet senior representatives of the multinational companies operating here, both at local management level and also with more senior foreign-based executives, whenever possible. In the case of one of the companies mentioned, I met with senior officials from the US parent company only last month. Nothing more could have been done to avoid these recent redundancies.
A feature of the Pharmaceutical sector at present is that it is going through a process of change, largely driven by recent mergers, which have resulted in excess capacity and a requirement to review operations and reduce costs. In the case of one of the companies referred to, the new amalgamated company has 90 plants worldwide and needs to reduce that by 42, and the recent announcement included one of its several Irish operations. Other challenges facing the sector include patent expiry and changing trends, costs and dynamics. These factors are totally outside our control. As the Deputy will appreciate, the ultimate decision in all these cases is made by the parent company, on strictly commercial grounds, and on what is seen by the companies as being in the best interests of the group as a whole.
In the case of the three sets of job losses referred to, the announcements were made a corporate level without advance notice to my Department.
Despite these setbacks, the future for the Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices sectors in Ireland is very promising. Additional jobs have been created in growth areas and most companies in the sector have been investing heavily in their Irish operations over recent years. Prospects for finding a new buyer for the one plant recently scheduled for total closure are quite high and the IDA are working closely with the company and with potential buyers to advance that process. It is heartening that in the case of three recent Pharmaceutical plant closures in Ireland, new buyers have been found through the efforts of the IDA and those plants are now back in production with healthy employment levels.
We will continue to engage closely with these companies but it is an unfortunate fact that significant change is a feature of the industry. While it is never possible to make absolute predictions about future redundancies, and there will inevitably be occasional rationalizations and changes, the outlook for these sectors overall, is promising.