National jobs figures cold comfort to MBNA employees

Pictured at Leinster House following a meeting with Government Ministers in connection with attracting new companies to  Carrick-on-Shannon (l-r) Joe Lowe, Leitrim Enterprise Officer, Senator Paschal Mooney, Cllr Paddy O'Rourke, Chairperson Leitrim Co Council, Frank Curran, CEO, Leitrim Co Council. Photo Submitted
Fianna Fáil councillors and senators have attacked the Government and the IDA over their failure to secure jobs in the now closed MBNA/Bank of America facility.

Fianna Fáil councillors and senators have attacked the Government and the IDA over their failure to secure jobs in the now closed MBNA/Bank of America facility.

On Thursday and Friday, November 27 and 28, the last remaining employees were let go in Carrick-on-Shannon in a story which has epitomised the ‘boom and bust’ experience of modern Ireland.

When the state-of-the art facility was at its peak there were 1,100 employed in the county town. On Friday, the final 160 left to, as Senator Paschal Mooney put it an address tot he Seanad last Thursday

“to join the unemployment queue”.

In his speech, Senator Mooney said that while the drop in national unemployment figures was celebrated by the Government and was welcome news to those who found a job, it was “cold comfort to 160 people who are losing their jobs this morning in the MBNA office in Carrick-on-Shannon.”

“What have the Government and the IDA been doing about it? They have been doing damn all,” he added criticising the IDA for only visiting the county once in the last couple of years.

“Here we have a highly skilled workforce in the financial sector, a state-of-the-art building and a willingness and enthusiasm by the local authority and local elected representatives to welcome any company that would come into that building,” he said.

“I am pleading with the Government to do something for my part of the country. There is an unevenness about employment prospects in this country. If one happens to live on the East Coast, one has a far better chance of getting a job with some of the foreign multinationals that come here, but what is the Government going to do about Co Leitrim?” he asked.

“What is the Government going to do about Carrick-on-Shannon and the workers who are now without work four or five weeks before Christmas?” he said asking that Minister Richard Bruton come to the House and outline the Government’s policy on regional development and the provision of jobs in towns like Carrick-on-Shannon.

On Wednesday a delegation from Leitrim County Council led by Cathaoirleach, Cllr Paddy O’Rourke; Leitrim County Council CEO, Frank Curran; and Joe Lowe, County Enterprise Officer, met with Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Simon Harris TD.

Following the meeting Cathaoirleach, Cllr Paddy O’Rourke said he was pleased to see Minister Harris seemed quite familiar with the MBNA situation and readily agreed that the loss of jobs is a huge blow in an area where little other opportunity exists.

“This meeting follows one held with Jobs Minister, Richard Bruton in the immediate aftermath of the announcement of the closure earlier in the Autumn when we were told marketing the facility to would-be investors was a priority for IDA and Enterprise Ireland,” he said.

“While it would have been very optimistic to have hoped for a seamless transfer to a new owner in time to save the jobs, one has to ask are we here in Leitrim getting our fair share of the jobs being created and what action has been taken since Minister Bruton attended a special meeting of Leitrim Council some two and a half years ago where he was put on notice of the looming disaster.”

“We ask where are the jobs for Leitrim or are they going to constituencies of influential government people,” said Cllr O’Rourke.

The Cathaoirleach is now calling on “all public representatives and Government people to deliver for Leitrim on this important issue.