I thank the Ceann Comhairle for allowing us to raise this very serious issue and I thank the Minister for coming into the Chamber to answer. This is a very serious situation. What makes it more serious is the way it came about. Just days into the new year, when the workforce had returned to work and were working hard, as they always do at the C&C Group all over Ireland, in the Borrisoleigh plant and in Clonmel, a supposed leak of coming job losses was reported in The Irish Times. First, I do not believe it was a leak. I believe it was deliberate policy on the part of the company itself, which will not engage.
The Gleeson plant in Borrisoleigh and Bulmers in Clonmel have a huge heritage and a very dedicated and diligent workforce. I salute the workforce there and sympathise with them and their families in their plight, having heard this news in the way they did, through Tipp FM or The Irish Times website. They were told today that the group CEO, Mr. Glancey, was flying in from England, but he is not flying anywhere. I have an e-mail here from Tom McCusker, who says there is no one coming into the country today and he is dealing with it. Here we are with a merry-go-round. There is no accountability, no responsibility and no goodwill shown to the workers and their families. It is despicable.
It is a sad state of affairs that these two small, productive companies - there were up to 700 jobs in Bulmers in Clonmel at one stage and up to 300 in Gleesons of Borrisoleigh - could be taken over by C&C and laid to waste. They were plundered and - I do not like using this parlance here - they were raped and pillaged. No action the company takes or promise it gives to us and to the workers is worth the paper it is written on. It now says it is going to relocate 80 jobs to Clonmel, which is an hour's journey away. The assurances I have got about the Clonmel plant over the last four years - I have raised it here several times - have not been honoured. How can we believe or trust this? Are they going to pipe the water from Borrisoleigh to Clonmel, or are they going to find a spring underneath the factory in Clonmel in order to bottle the water in Clonmel-----