The decision by Aptar that it is to close its facility in Ballinasloe is deeply disappointing. My primary concern, as always in these situations, is for the workers and families who have been impacted by this decision. Many of these workers have been with the company for many years. The Government will make every State support available to those affected in order to help them transition and find new employment opportunities.
The IDA have worked hard to sustain and support the firm’s presence here and have had close and regular contact with management, both at a local and corporate level. The IDA also provided support to employee representatives as they put together a plan for efficiency savings that could be made at the Ballinasloe plant.
Now that the decision has been taken to close the facility, the IDA is working closely with the company to market the plant to potential investors. The IDA has introduced a number of companies who are interested in the Ballinasloe facility to Aptar management team and has also arranged visits to the site.
Both the IDA and Enterprise Ireland will use the employee skills audit that has been carried out in their efforts to attract new investment to Ballinasloe. The IDA Regional team has also connected employees of Aptar with the local Intreo office as well as the Education and Training Board, Local Enterprise Office, Regional Skills Forum West and Galway Mervue Roscommon Training Centre.
My Department and its Agencies have been working hard, over a sustained period, to support job creation in the regions. This has included setting ambitious targets to ensure that employment and investment are distributed as evenly as possible across the country. Last year, there were over 21,000 people employed in IDA-supported firms in Galway. This is almost double the number employed in 2010 (11,235). While the period ahead may prove more challenging, securing new foreign direct investment for our regions will be a key priority.
Wider enterprise efforts are also underway to generate new growth in Galway and the surrounding area. For example, regional stakeholders – including Enterprise Ireland, the LEOs and the Higher and Further Education Institutes – are working together on implementation of the Regional Enterprise Plan for the West. This is aimed at strengthening the environment for job creation in the region and Ballinasloe will also benefit from this.
Another important initiative in this context is the Regional Enterprise Development Fund, through which over €16.7m in funding for the West – over three competitive calls – has been approved for collaborative regional enterprise projects. The region has had particular recent success, with five Galway-based projects being awarded a total of €9.6m. These projects are currently being developed and their completion will enhance the attractiveness of the area for further investment and job creation.
While the announcement of job losses at Aptar is very disappointing, I want to assure you that the Government and its agencies are working to create employment opportunities in the West and across all of our regions.