McGrath ‘thought Ireland was a better place’

The 32 workers engaged in a sit-in at the Vita Cortex plant in Cork received a boost over the weekend when former Republic of Ireland soccer international Paul McGrath visited the factory less than a day after they attended a fundraising concert held in their honour by musician Christy Moore.

Mr McGrath stressed workers throughout the country should support the Vita Cortex employees. Visiting the factory on Saturday afternoon he said he empathised with the Vita Cortex staff.

“To see people being treated the way they are... I think it’s just not on. I thought Ireland was a better place than this. I believe in what they are doing. I hope they can win out in the struggle that they are in,” he said.

Staff at the foam manufacturing plant in Ballyphehane on the southside of the city have been staging a sit-in protest for over two months, in a bid to secure 2.9 weeks in redundancy pay for each year of service, which they claim owner Jack Ronan pledged to pay.

Martina Anderson said it had been a whirlwind weekend for the former Vita Cortex employees in terms of high-profile support.

“It has been a great weekend for all of us. First Christy Moore and today Paul McGrath. They were both kind enough to support us. We had a lovely time when Paul called round. What a gent. It’s a day to be remembered by us all.”

Meanwhile, Christy Moore played a sold-out gig in the Triskel Arts Centre on Friday night in support of the protesters.

Mr Moore said he felt compelled to help the workers after they highlighted their plight. He dedicated his song ‘Ordinary Man’ to the workers during his gig, saying the manner in which they had been treated was “obscene”.

Christy Moore added that he was sitting down watching the Late Late Show the night the Vita Cortex workers were interviewed. By the time employee Henry O’Reilly finished speaking Moore decided to organise a gig in solidarity with those engaged in the sit-in.

Last week, Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson phoned the plant and pledged his support to the workers. The phone call was organised by Dave O’Connell from local company Suit Distributors.

Earlier this month more than 5,000 people took to the streets of Cork City to highlight the plight of the workers.

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