117 staff lose jobs in company closure

MORE than 100 workers at Diamond Engineering Ltd in Limerick are facing an uncertain future after they were told the company is to close.

The 117 job losses in Kilmallock, bring to more than 13,000 the number of people laid off in the past seven weeks.

Many of the workers were in tears yesterday when management of the company announced the shock closure due to the increased cost of production, soaring insurance costs and the downturn in the global economy.

Fine Gael Deputy Dan Neville described the loss of 117 jobs as devastating for the town of Kilmallock which had not benefited from the Celtic Tiger. “I am calling on the Tánaiste, Mary Harney, to immediately set up a Task Force to find a replacement industry for Kilmallock, given the level of expertise, skill and commitment of the management and staff in this company over many years.”

Seamus Buckley, managing director of Diamond Engineering Ltd, which manufactured pressure vessels and storage tanks for the pharmaceutical industry since 1985, said: “The management and dedicated workforce are all devastated by the closure announcement. All the staff will be paid all their statutory entitlements when a liquidator is appointed on August 5 next.

“We had a very good business but, when the British-based Independent Insurance Company went into liquidation in 2001, they were left with a number of significant claims which we had to resolve ourselves.”

He said the level of business in the company had dropped completely in the past 12 months. “Every effort was made to try and save the industry including the restructuring of the finances of the company. It was a sad occasion for everybody when the workers were informed of the closure announcement at a meeting yesterday morning,” said Mr Buckley.

One of the workers, Mick Lewis, who is married with four children, said that the news of the closure had come as a shock. “This is devastating for all the workers as there are no other jobs out there at the moment for people in this line of work. This was an excellent company where the management always looked after the staff very well and there was a dedicated team of workers.”

Mike Hennessy, the company’s development manager, described the closure of such a successful company as a major blow. “Kilmallock is a small market town and to lose this number of workers has serious consequences for the South Limerick area.”

Labour’s Deputy Jan O’Sullivan called on the Tanaiste to help find alternative employment for the 117 workers. “This is a terrible blow for Limerick and the Mid-West coming at a time when a job is now being lost every 15 minutes.”

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