News that 70 jobs are to be lost in Tipperary town with the closure of McDonald’s mushroom growing facility, has been described as a “hammer blow” to the local economy.
“There are now 1,400 people unemployed in Tipperary town,” Cllr Denis Leahy told the Tipperary Star.
“We have to go to the government and highlight our needs at this time. We have no replacement got for PALL (healthcare manufacturers which closed in 2011), and this is 70 jobs lost on top of that. I’m afraid to say where will these jobs come from, and how will they be replaced?”
McDonald Mushrooms closed on Wednesday morning with the managing director Peter McDonald directly blaming the closure on Britain’s decision to leave the EU. The fall in the value of Sterling has eroded McDonald’s earnings by up to 17%, meaning they can no longer pay staff or meet overheads. The mushroom grower has been in operation for 17 years near Tipperary town.
Many of the employees are from Eastern Europe, and many will now be left wondering about their future in the town. Cllr Leahy said the closure will severely impact spending in local shops, and have knock on effects in local retailing.
Without PALL and McDonald’s the whole retail sector in Tipp town has a bleak outlook, said Cllr Leahy.
Many of the East Europeans who worked for McDonalds have integrated well into the area, and have become part and parcel of the local schools and clubs. “Their children go to our schools. They shop in our shops. They’re indigenous to us as well.”
Confidence is at a low ebb. “People are asking what else can happen to Tipperary town? And whose going to come in and do something for us? We’ve been hammered so much. We’ve been hit again and again. The government is not doing anything for us.”
Cllr Leahy said pressure should be put on the IDA and local TDs to up their game. “The IDA haven’t done anything for the town. It’s actually the truth. Rural Ireland is not going to go well, when towns like Tipperary are losing 70 jobs. That gap needs to be filled, and those jobs restored.”
“I’d ask that Tipperary’s five TDs put their shoulders to the wheel, and once and for all redress this loss. There’s not much else we can lose. For our town to survive, we need five TDs working together on our behalf.”
Tipperary has 12 other similar mushroom growing companies which are under pressure from the fall in the value of the pound sterling, following the UK’s decision to leave the EU. “Little did I think that Tipperary town would be the first to feel the effects of ‘Brexit,” added Cllr Leahy. “The government must do something for Tipperary town.”
Independent TD Mattie McGrath said a taskforce should be set up to reverse Tipperary's slide into an economic blackspot.
“The fact that parts of Tipperary and rural Tipperary in particular are suffering from deeply ingrained problems with retaining employment is something I have been bringing to the government’s attention for some time now.
“In June I confronted the Taoiseach during Leaders Questions with the fact that unemployment in the South East generally is at crisis levels and is rising.
“It currently stands at 12.5% compared to other regions that are experiencing a national trend of 8.4%.There is therefore no excuse for the government not to immediately establish a fully resourced taskforce in order to escalate IDA development and support indigenous growth opportunities in rural Ireland.
“Tipperary Town now has just under 1500 people who are unemployed which when you consider the relative size of the area is absolutely devastating.
“There are a whole host of areas that need to be addressed such as the broader impact of minimum wage laws and the lack of a clear and urgent response to the Brexit result.
“This is rapidly leading to problems becoming deeply entrenched with areas like rural Tipperary being hit hardest as they slide into the status of economic blackspots.
“I will be in constant communication with the Minister’s office on this matter given how clear it now is that we are witnessing the decimation of entire rural economies,” concluded Deputy McGrath.