In the wake of the announcement of the he shocking news of the closure of PALL Ireland's manufacturing facility at Rosanna Road, Tipperary Town, a special meeting of Tipperary Town Council was held last Friday.
Mayor Billy Bourke opened the meeting and expressed his sincere regret at the news and said it was a devastating blow to the town.
"I would like to convey my sincere regret at this announcement and its implications for the employees and their families who have been affected by this decision," said Mayor Burke. "My immediate concern is for them and their future and in this regard I fervently hope that a successful approach can be adopted to minimising the impact of this fateful decision. While I appreciate the terms of redundancy are a matter for the company, I would hope that any package would acknowledge the workers loyalty and contribution to the company," he added.
South Tipperary County Council Manager Mr Ned O'Connor expressed his sadness and concern about the employee redundancy payments and voiced his hope that PALL would carefully consider that the factory buildings remain an important asset to the town and surrounding areas.
The manager said he intended to arrange a meeting of the County Development Board inter-agency working group, (Enterprise Ireland, FAS, IDA, County Enterprise Board, Tipperary Institute and South Tipp County Council) as soon as possible to identify how the agencies can engage with those who have been made redundant in Pall,
"In particular, I would hope that CDB agencies can assist those who have lost their job and assist them in finding alternative work and/or provide them with opportunities to up-skill so that they are in a better position to find appropriate employment. I also wish to continue to work with these agencies in progressing their proposals to provide opportunities for more enterprise and employment creation in County Tipperary," he added.
He assured the meeting that Pall's employees could count on every assistance and support from both the County Council and the other state agencies in their current difficulties.
Cllr. Denis Leahy said the news sent shockwaves throughout the town and West Tipperary and he highlighted the unemployment figures in the town.
"We have to get the first bite of the cherry and bombard the IDA to help us. There are 1,800 people unemployed in Tipp Town, that's half a million euro loss of wages that results includes shop and pub closures. So far we've had no success with the IDA but they must listen to us this time if they want rural Ireland to survive they have to do something," said Cllr. Leahy. 'We need to be pro-active as a team and now more than ever, Tipperary Town is most deserving of help," he added.
Both Cllr. Anna Tuohy-Halligan and Cllr. Mary Swords spoke of the heartbreak to the families involved in the closure of PALL and the difficulties that lay ahead. "There are families suffering in this town tonight, knowing that they are going to be unemployed," said Cllr. Tuohy-Halligan.
Cllr. Brian Rafferty said that the closing of Pall Ireland in Tipperary Town would have little effect on the shareholders in America. "We need to re-establish the Decentralisation Committee Agency and lobby the Government for wider investment to fill the factory."
South Tipperary County Council Manager Ned O'Connor said there was a lack of information to go forward with and that they should try to optimise the facility and use it for other business. "The local authority is not a job creating body but we have the facilities to co-ordinate the different bodies to assist in job creation. We cannot rely on the IDA alone as six out of ten visits to Ireland go to Dublin and this has nothing to do with quality of the workforce outside of Dublin." he said.
Mr O'Connor stated the County Council would contact Pall to find out what they were going to do with the factory.He wanted to see that the unemployed staff can be retrained utilizing all agencies.
Minster for State Dr Martin Mansergh voiced his concern that Enterprise Ireland and the IDA needed to meet quickly and make it possible for the government agencies to prioritise employment to the area. "Job creation agencies need to be given a sense of urgency and get a replacement industry to this town," he said.
As well as seeking support from agencies to assist in getting more information from Pall in regards to what they were going to do with the factory, TD Tom Hayes and TD Mattie McGrath both agreed that direct discussions need to take place with the head office of Pall in America to discover the exact details of why they have pulled out of Tipperary Town and if there is any possibility of them utilising the factory for other aspects of their industry and therefore continuing employment. In February 2009, TD Tom Hayes received a letter from Pall Ireland inferring that they were looking to expand the facility in Rosanna Road. Mr Hayes showed the letter to all present and suggested that something must have happened for them to change their mind therefore making a direct discussion with Pall Head Office a necessity.
Senator Phil Prendergast said she spent the day of the Pall announcement canvassing in Tippeary town and said everybody she spoke to were shocked at the news.She said the positive aspects of the area should be sold to attract new industry to the town.Cllr Michael Fitzgerald said he was surprised that the factory had lasted since the workforce was halved in 2003 and that it was a waste of time going to Pall now that the decision had been made.
"My biggest concern,' added County Council Chairman Sean McCarthy, "is that the workforce are looked after in regards to their redundancy packages and future up-skill training and development."
Cllr John Crosse's suggestion to ensure that a positive message is sent out that Tipperary Town is a good place for industry was welcomed by all at the meeting. "We cannot allow a negative image of the town to be depicted by the departure of Pall. We must put out a positive front that Tipperary Town is a good place for industry with a willing and loyal work force."