[Sinn Fein]

9 December 1998

Fruit of the Loom closure - massive body blow to North West

Sinn Fein Vice President Pat Doherty has described the redundancies at Fruit of the Loom plants in Donegal as a ``massive body blow to the local community and economy.

Mr. Doherty said:

``It is difficult to overestimate the devastating impact that these job losses will have in Donegal. Whole families who have relied on employment in these factories for as long as they have been in operation now find themselves facing a future which offers little prospect of alternative employment.

``The knock on effect for the local economy will be equally devastating and radical action is required to fill the void being created by the disintegration of the textile industry in the North West. It is now time to set about the task of developing a strategy which will create an infrastructure capable of meeting the demands of the new hi-tech industries which will become an increasing source of employment in the future.

``It is clear that the existing agencies and successive governments tasked with economic development have palpably failed to meet the changing requirements of the region.

``We must look towards creating a local, accountable development agency which is aware of the needs of the North West, which can formulate a coherent and integrated strategy and which will enable us to face up to the major shifts which are taking place in the economic landscape.

``This will also require a co-ordinated training and education programme for schools, third level education institutions and job creation initiatives which will provide our young people and those who have been employed in the traditional industries with the skills to adapt to the new requirements.

``The economic crisis which exists demands the construction of a response which empowers all sections of our community and is best placed to deliver on the economic needs of our people.''

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