In November 2013 it was announced that medical screening company Northgate would be setting up operations in Castlebar and creating 150 jobs in the county town. The opening of that facility dragged on over the next two years with only six jobs ever being created. Yesterday (Thursday November 3 ) it was revealed that Northgate would be closing their business in Castlebar with those six jobs going.
Fianna Fáil TD from Castlebar Lisa Chambers told the Mayo Advertiser yesterday: "It's a terrible situation for the staff who find themselves in this situation with their jobs going in the lead up to Christmas." She went on to say that as far as she understands part of the reasons for the closure of the operation was the loss of two major contracts the company had expected to get, and that when they did not materalise it put pressure on the company. Deputy Chambers went on to say that from speaking to staff they felt there were problems when they hadn't been visited by senior management since September last year, and they realised there might be problems as far back as January this year, but were only finally told the news on Wednesday, with the facility closing on December 2. She added: "People were promised these jobs in the run up to an election and from them not to be delivered is really disappointing, if there is anything we can do for these people effected we should do it."
Sinn Féin Senator from Mayo Rose Conway Walsh said after learning of the job losses that the saga of the promised Northgate jobs is symptomatic of this Government's failure to create jobs in the west. She added: "The jobs that were promised in Northgate never materialised. The deeply frustrating aspect is that these jobs were announced with politicians, photo shoots, and promises that things were improving. Yet when the jobs failed to come on line there was silence from the Government. The people of Castlebar rightly felt abandoned and used. “What is needed for Mayo, and the west in general, is a strategy to attract employers that can produce jobs which are ready to be filled at the time of any announcements. Sinn Féin has put forward workable proposals to support SMEs and indigenous industry as drivers of employment. I am also aware that up to six people who were employed at the facility have now lost their jobs."
Independent Castlebar councillor Michael Kilcoyne, who had questioned when the promised jobs were coming on stream a number of times since the announcement was made three years ago, told the Mayo Advertiser yesterday: “I’ve asked about it many times and in many places and was told I was I was scaremongering. I was given assurances time after time that they were coming.
“It’s a terrible thing for the people who are losing their jobs, but I want to know what money was put in by Enterprise Ireland and Mayo County Council into this and when are we getting some job announcement of real jobs for Mayo. Why is that when the announcements are made in in Dublin, Cork and Limerick about jobs they are real jobs, and we get ‘ shadow’ jobs.”