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August 24th 2005

Happy Anniversary

Johnny and Agnes McGrory, Ballinacarrick Barr, Ballintra, who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Sunday in the Central Hotel. Pictured with their children. Front: Claire Carrigan, Johnny and Agnes, Helen McNulty. Back: Angela McGee, Mattie, Raymond, Stephen, and Ann McGrory

Photo: Jason McGarrigle

Playground lease back with solicitors

The on-going saga of the Donegal Town playground took a further twist in the last week. The Times has learned that Donegal County Council has returned the site lease unsigned, thus delaying the opening of the children’s amusement area again. This story has gone on for yonks - the play equipment has been in place on the old running track for at least two years. The council says it only wants to sign a five year lease while the playground committee were looking for twenty. The whole situation reflects badly on the local authority which should have had this situation sorted out long ago. Meanwhile the kids go back to school next week – one more holiday deprived of a play area which they can look at it behind the security fencing but cannot use.

Hit and Run on the Diamond

At 3.15 am on Monday 22nd August, a youth was knocked down by a Toyota Land Cruiser outside ‘Forget-Me-Not’ on the Diamond. The young lad ended up under the wheels of the vehicle, with his upper body projecting on to the road. Gardai were quickly on the scene and called an ambulance and the fire service. Having assessed the situation, emergency personnel made a decision to use air-bags to lift the four wheeler so as to avoid causing further injuries to the victim. This was successfully achieved and the youth was taken to Letterkenny General Hospital, where his condition is described as stable.
Immediately after the accident occurred, the driver of the Land Cruiser, believed to be a female, jumped out and is reported to have been picked up by another vehicle, a Mitsubishi Pajero, which departed the scene. The injured youth is twenty years of age and is from Co. Meath. He had been staying locality for a number of days. It is reported that the victim and the driver had been in each other’s company earlier in the night. Gardai continue to seek the Toyota driver and are appealing for any witnesses to the accident to contact them on 9721021 (see photo on page 3).


Catastrophic news broken to workers yesterday

Tuesday 23rd August will be remembered as a black day for Donegal Town. At 10 o’clock yesterday morning, workers at Hospira were informed that the plant at Lurganboy is to shut down its production lines in 18 months with the loss of 560 jobs. In operation since 1980, this closure will have vast repercussions for the population of South Donegal and further afield. With so many jobs at stake, this is probably the biggest economic blow our area has ever suffered.

In response to a request from Donegal Times, the company issued the following statement:
‘Dateline: Tuesday 23rd August 2005: Hospira this morning informed its workforce in Donegal Town, with regret, that it has drawn up plans to close its Donegal manufacturing plant in an estimated eighteen months time.
‘To ensure long-term success, Hospira must focus on improving profitability through cost savings and increased operational efficiency. The plan has been formulated following an ongoing evaluation of business and economic conditions and a review of Hospira’s manufacturing operations. The combination of excess manufacturing capacity within Hospira, married with the high cost of manufacturing in Ireland, has greatly influenced Hospira’s thinking,’ said Dermot Murphy, Donegal Plant Director. ‘Hospira wishes to record our gratitude to the workforce in Donegal.’
It is planned that products manufactured in Donegal will be transferred to Hospira plants in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. In all, approximately 560 workers may be made redundant as a consequence.  This announcement does not affect operations at the Hospira plant in Sligo.
‘As of today, Hospira will be consulting closely with staff and unions in relation to the company’s proposals and also to try to seek agreement on redundancy packages at the earliest possible date’, added Mr Murphy. ‘We have yet to work out many of the details pending consultation with staff and unions, but once we formulated the plan, it was decided to convey it to our workers immediately.  We understand the impact this news will have on the region, but we hope that, by making this announcement with plenty of advance notice, it will give those affected time to consider alternative options.’

According to a worker who was present when this announcement was made, the scene was one of devastation and dismay. Indeed some of the workforce were in tears as they digested the distressing news. Although rumors that things were not exactly right had been circulating throughout the plant for almost a week, the news, when it came, had a shocking impact.
Minister Mary Coughlan told Donegal Times: “I regret the decision of Hospira to close its Donegal manufacturing plant in eighteen months time. I am in touch with my cabinet colleague Michael Martin to find a replacement industry as a matter of urgency and I will be pressing for the Government’s decentralisation plans for Donegal Town to be fast-tracked in order to address quickly what is a serious blow to the town. I will use the next eighteen months before final closure to ensure that every effort is made to find replacement jobs for those affected”.
Cllr Thomas Pringle expressed his anger at the news of Hospira’s closure and the devastation it will cause to hundreds of families in the South Donegal Area. “The closure is an indictment of successive Governments attitude to Donegal. Sinn Fein has constantly raised the lack of industrial development in the West and South of the county and called for all sectors to work together in drawing up and implementing an Action Plan. Hospira/Abbots was the last IDA backed development in this area and that was 25 years ago. Nothing since. We have Government Ministers in this county who should be hanging their heads in shame - the highest unemployment rate in the country, no investment, no industrial promotion- as far as they are concerned the South and West of the County might as well be in the middle of the Atlantic.”
“No doubt” continues Pringle, ‘this Government will set up a Task Force similar to the previous ones where in a couple of years the results will be the same - zero jobs, zero investment.’
Pringle extended his sympathy to the dedicated workers who made the Abbot/Hospira plant so profitable down through the years.

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

Tel: +353-74-9722860 Fax: +353-74-9722937