The news that ICT Eurotel is to close its Belmullet base of operations has come as a huge blow to the area. The closure of the call centre will see 82 jobs lost and will be a detrimental blow to the community in the area. ICT Eurotel employed 39 full-time and 43 part-time staff in its Belmullet operation and is expected to have completely wound down its operations by October this year.
Minister of State for Labour Affairs Dara Calleary said: “This is devastating news for workers at the company and it is a blow for the Erris region. I will do everything I can to assist those affected and to ensure that the full services of the State agencies will be available to them when the company ceases operation in October. I will also work with the company, with Údarás Na Gaeltachta, and with the workers to ensure that a redundancy procedure that is satisfactory to all involved is achieved.” Minster Calleary also told the Mayo Advertiser: “I’ll continue to promote Mayo and areas like this as the ideal place for investment for companies to start up, and while it is tough in this current worldwide economic climate to attract investment, it’s something I won’t stop trying to do.”
While Minister Calleary has promised to do everything he can to assist those who will be made redundant, Fine Gael county councillor for the area Gerry Coyle told the Mayo Advertiser this week: “There is no point in me or any other councillor or TD telling people we have all the sympathy for the people that have been made redundant, that’s not going to pay their mortgages or car loans when they get laid off.”
These were the jobs of the future
Cllr Coyle also went on to say that “two jobs in this region is a huge blow never mind 82. I know that we are going to hear about task forces being set up for the area, but the last task force that was set up the recommendations weren’t followed through, like upgrading our roads to give us a fighting chance. We thought that these were the ideal jobs for an area like this, not manufacturing where things had to be brought in and out, but highly educated people working in the service sector. I will be raising this issue at the next sitting of the gas forum when the Minister Éamon Ó Cuív is in Belmullet. Another thing that is quite worrying is the fact that Údarás na Gaeltachta have no funding at present to support job creation in areas like this,” concluded Cllr Coyle. This lack of funding from Údarás for job creation was also cited by Coyle’s party colleague Michael Ring TD, who is Fine Gael community, rural, and Gaeltacht affairs spokesman. He said: “The harsh reality is that, even if a new business wanted to create 1,000 jobs in the area, Údarás has no funding to put in the resources for such a development so the prospects for job creation are bleak.”
Newly elected Sinn Féin county councillor Cllr Rose Conway-Walsh has called for a stop on the over reliance on foreign direct investment to create jobs. “We cannot rely on foreign direct investment companies whose primary objective is profit maximisation to meet the employment needs of this community. Support for indigenous business and local employers, potential employers and entrepreneurship must be our priority. We will only meet the challenges of the current economic climate by having an integrated employment strategy including the immediate provision of broadband and other vital infrastructure projects.”