I propose to take Questions Nos. 375 and 382 together.
The announcement by Molex that it will close its facility in Shannon is a source of significant regret and disappointment. I understand fully how important an employer this company has been to the area and the role it has played in supporting jobs and enterprise in the Mid-West.
The IDA first learnt of the decision by the firm to cease operating in Shannon on 21 October. My Department was informed immediately afterwards by the Agency through the Early Warning System. We unfortunately had no other prior notice of the company’s intentions.
Our immediate concern was of course for the workers and families who stood to be impacted. We were therefore determined to act as swiftly as possible to address the closure and help mitigate, as much as possible, its consequences for the employees and the Shannon region. I also spoke with the CEO of the company on 22 October, who explained that the company’s decision was irreversible.
On 23 October I travelled to Shannon, together with Minister of State Breen, to convene a meeting of key stakeholders. This included representatives from the State’s principal enterprise agencies, Government Departments, Clare County Council, Third Level institutions and the local business community. Our collective focus was to determine how best to respond and to assist those employees who would be impacted by the closure.
Following that meeting, an action plan was agreed with Molex to support the skill development needs of its workers and to help them find alternative employment. Many of those impacted have valuable skills and experience and the IDA, together with other stakeholders, will be drawing the attention of potential employers to their availability. The IDA will also be working separately to market the facility to prospective investors and to find new investment for the area.
Looking further ahead, we will need – as was collectively agreed at the stakeholder meeting – to ensure we create new opportunities across the wider Mid-West region that can help offset many of these job losses. The Mid-West Regional Enterprise Plan – which was launched earlier this year – will be a critical tool in that respect.
While the Molex closure undeniably represents a significant blow for Shannon and the wider area, it remains the case that the Mid-West is performing well in economic terms. The region has seen significant investment in the last three years and key employers include many large-scale manufacturing employers such as Beckton Dickinson, Edwards Lifesciences, Analog Devices, Johnson and Johnson, Regeneron, Stryker and Zimmer. We are therefore optimistic that further new opportunities can be created for the area in the time ahead.
It is also important to acknowledge, in this context, that the Molex closure is purely the result of a decision by the company to discontinue certain product lines that are manufactured in Ireland. It has nothing to do with the competitiveness of our economy or the skills of our workforce. The company has made that fully clear itself.