Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Cork Mill Closure.

6.

asked the Minister for Labour if he is aware of the number of people made redundant as a result of the closing of a mill (details supplied) in County Cork in July, 1975; if his Department have a record of the number still unemployed; the steps he is taking to have suitable local employment provided for them; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I am aware of the redundancies in question. When this firm went into receivership in April, 1975, there were 274 people employed but the numbers were reduced through redundancies until there were only 143 employed at the time of closure in July, 1975. Two hundred and thirty-two of those made redundant in 1975 qualified for redundancy payments.

The National Manpower Service of my Department have interviewed the redundant workers. Jobs were found for as many as possible and others were advised about retraining opportunities. However, 131 of the workers made redundant in 1975 are still registered as unemployed.

I have been in touch with the Minister for Industry and Commerce regarding the creation of new jobs and I am informed that, within a five-mile radius of the area, a number of new projects established with IDA assistance will, between them, provide over 700 jobs at full production. The employment premium programme, which I introduced last year, is also available to assist the workers who were made redundant to obtain employment in existing firms.

How soon will those 131 workers be employed in the new industries? How will those new industries avail of the premium employment scheme in view of the conditions laid down by him?

They are separate matters. The employment premium programme does not apply to such new industries because it relates to existing industries. The new industries are calculated to come into being at Ballincollig. I cannot say that right away the 131 workers will be absorbed in immediate employment, but the National Manpower Service are continuing their efforts to replace them.

Is the Minister aware that there are many of these workers aged over 50 years? Does he think they will get employment in the new industries being set up in these areas?

There is a great deal of difficulty in getting workers of that age re-employed but our retraining programme has attempted to see that workers of that age group are retrained and made available for other kinds of jobs than those they held previously.

Is it not true to say that despite the fact that we have had retraining for the past two or three years what we are doing is retraining people for no opportunities?

This is always the case in a period of recession. I still believe it is important that in a period of enforced unemployment people should be given new skills so that when jobs are available they will be re-employed at higher rates of remuneration.