Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has said she cannot provide financial aid to Imperial Tobacco in Mullingar, because of the health implications of its products.
Imperial Tobacco announced last week that it is to close its manufacturing facility this October with the loss of 87 jobs. The company, which has been in operation since 1967, has had to decommission a number of its production lines due to the introduction of a 30mg minimum pack size for rolling tobacco.
Minister Mitchell O’Connor was responding to questions in the Dáil from Deputies Robert Troy (FF ) and Willie Penrose (Lab ).
Speaking following the announcement, Deputy Troy said it was “devastating news” for the workers, their families, and the wider community.
“Imperial Tobacco has been a longstanding company in the town and while no one can condone the public health consequences of smoking, it is a simple fact that these were well-paid, reputable jobs for many in the Mullingar area. I am calling on the new Minister to now seek replacement jobs in the area without delay,” he said.
Deputy Penrose also expressed his shock and disappointment at the news.
“It helped play a pivotal role in the economy of Mullingar, and notwithstanding that all its products were manufactured for export, it served through the various recessions and downturns.
“We all must redouble our efforts to secure alternative employment opportunities for these employees, and to ensure that all of the facilities and machinery of the State are available to assist them at this critical time,” he said.
Chief executive of Westmeath County Council, Pat Gallagher, has offered the assistance of Westmeath County Council following a period of consultation between management and staff.