[Sinn Fein]

24 August 2001

300 jobs in jeopardy

Devastating blow to Monaghan

``Ministers must intervene immediately'' - Ó Caoláin

The further suspension of production at Monaghan Poultry Products by order of the Department of Agriculture and Food has been described by Sinn Fein Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin as a ``devastating blow''.

Production has ceased again at Monaghan Poultry Products as a result of an order from the Department of Agriculture and Food, which cites alleged non-compliance with EU regulations by the company. Production cannot be resumed until the company complies with EU directives to the Department's satisfaction. Commenting on this development Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``The suspension of production at Monaghan Poultry Products, a mainstay of the economy of this region, is a devastating blow. It has potentially grave consequences for all 300 jobs at the Monaghan plant and for the suppliers of poultry to the company who rely on this outlet for their livelihood.

``I have met management and I have been in contact with SIPTU representatives and the IFA as the crisis developed. All are agreed that any long-term suspension of production could fatally undermine this operation, leading to the loss of 300 jobs. The potentially disastrous consequences for the more than 100 growers, breeder-growers, hauliers and others who supply and service the plant and the knock-on effect in ancillary services would be a massive blow to the economy of Co. Monaghan and of the entire region.

``I understand that the company is not, on its own, in a position to make the very large investment needed to fully comply with stringent EU requirements. I am calling on the Minister for Agriculture and Food Joe Walsh TD and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Harney TD, to intervene directly. They should work with the company, with SIPTU and with the IFA to put together a rescue package and provide direct financial aid to ensure that the plant is fully compliant with all regulations and directives.

``The health of consumers is paramount and I recognise the need to ensure that all safety requirements are strictly met. However a very heavy burden is imposed on smaller production units like MPP, in comparison to the much larger units, which predominate throughout the EU. In the absence of aid to those companies in difficulty with compliance there is a suspicion that the EU and the Irish authorities are imposing a far more stringent regime on smaller producers in order to `rationalise' production in favour of the larger operations. In order to allay these fears and save the jobs at MPP I urge the direct intervention of the relevant Ministers.''

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