asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware that a large number of workers are being laid off in a major industry (name supplied) in County Louth; and if he will state the steps he is taking to get the industry back in full production or to provide alternative employment for any workers who may be declared redundant.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Louth Industry.
I am aware of the matter referred to by the Deputy. I understand that the company closed on 20th June, 1975 and reopened on 30th June, 1975, when it resumed production of a limited range of some of its more profitable products. I further understand that the management expect that within a short period the work force will be built up to around 50 per cent of the level obtaining prior to the closure on 20th June, 1975.
I understand from the Industrial Development Authority that the company is agreeable to set up, in conjunction with the National Manpower Service, an employment bureau in the factory. In addition it is expected that there will be surplus factory space available and the company has indicated that it is willing to lease this to an alternative suitable industry. The IDA will assist them in this and will continue with its efforts to attract alternative industries to the area.
Alternative employment possibilities already being created within a reasonable commuting distance of the area include three new industries being set up in the Drogheda area which will eventually provide nearly 1,200 jobs. Three hundred-and-fifty of these will be filled by the end of 1976.
Is the Minister aware that this is the only industry in the area and that about half of the workers, that is, approximately 300, will not be re-employed? Would he agree that in the circumstances it is necessary that very special consideration should be given to this area to ensure that these workers are back in employment as quickly as possible?
Yes, I accept that this is the only industry in the area. As I said, there is space available in that factory to which the IDA are doing their best to attract industrialists at the moment but in the interim there are new jobs being created within fairly reasonable distance of the existing factory. The Minister is very conscious of the particular position in that area.
Surely the Minister is aware that the new jobs being created will not help to absorb these workers when there are so many unemployed trying to get employment in the Drogheda area as it is and that quite recently one industry there, a heavy industry, announced that it was closing down in the autumn and that a boot and shoe industry in Drogheda has gone into liquidation? What possible hope can the workers in the Dunleer factory have of obtaining employment in the industries mentioned by the Minister? Is the Minister also aware that the whole midland area is economically dependent on this industry particularly having regard to the fact that there has been a big lay-off in employment in the Castlegar textile factory and that the chair factory has also closed down? Will he ask the IDA to take very particular cognisance of the fact that the employment situation in the whole midland area is in a critical condition?
This is a very long question.
I do appreciate the very important position that this firm held in that area. The notes attached to the answer to this question make it obvious that the IDA are particularly interested in getting something else in there to fill the void and to provide employment for the people who have lost their jobs in the factory referred to in the Deputy's question.
The Minister will probably be aware that this is a heavy industry and that it is of particular significance because it is located in a rural area. Would he agree that apart from any other consideration, it would be a national disaster if the skills built up in that area over quite a number of years were to be lost and would he impress on the IDA the necessity not only to provide further industry there but to provide industry which could make use of the special skills which are available in the area?
I certainly will do that.
He may make a prophesy about it.
May I ask——
Deputy Faulkner has had a good innings on this question.
May I finally ask the Minister to ensure that every facility is made available to this industry to help it to get on its feet?
I think it has been done. There has been continuing discussion between the IDA and the management of the industry and An Fóir Teoranta with a view to giving them every assistance possible to reemploy as many as possible of the people who have been unemployed.
There may be an opportunity of making a further facility available.