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Glenisk faces 'uncertain' future following major factory fire

The fire broke out at the plant shortly after midday.

THE MANAGING DIRECTOR of the factory gutted in a blaze has said that the future for the plant is “uncertain”.

In an emotional interview on Morning Ireland Vincent Cleary of Glenisk in County Offaly spoke about how lucky it was that no one was seriously injured. 

All workers were safely evacuated following the fire at the dairy production facility in Killeigh near Tullamore. 

“We don’t know 100% (what happened) as yet, but around midday, smoke was smelled, and within, what seems like seconds, fire started in where our yogurt is actually made what we call the incubation room.

“Within seconds, it spread along a wall. A shout went out, the alarm went off to evacuate the premises. We’re well drilled and trained in that. I’d be straight up, I thought it was a drill at first because we’ve had so many, but it was a real thing, I guess, training, saved a lot of life yesterday,” Cleary said.

The family business was set up 35 years ago but Cleary said that a plan would be developed today to save the company. 

“Probably at this point in time, (the future is) uncertain, but I would say by 10 o’clock this morning we will have a plan in place.

“We’ve got a great crew – most of our staff at with us for 20 odd years. So, I have a responsibility to your staff as well. We give them gainful employment and we’ll continue with that trend,” he added. 

Cleary said that the company has been approached by other factories to help them get back on their feet. 

“(We are) humbled, to say the least, all, of what I would have termed as competitors, have reached out to us to offer us support and capacity in their own manufacturing units.

“I will be you in touch with a few of them over the coming days,” he added. 

The company will continue to collect milk from farmers and are expected to make efforts today to examine the possibility of rebuilding the destoyed plant. 

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In a statement Irish Farmers Association Organic Project Team Chairman Nigel Renaghan said the fire in the Glenisk plant is devastating for the Cleary family and the Glenisk brand. 

“The fire could have disastrous consequences for organic milk suppliers. The facility handles the majority of organic milk across the island of Ireland.

“Glenisk sources milk from approximately 50 organic dairy farmers across Ireland and it’s the destination for 90% of organic milk.

“Up to now, the company had bolstered its sale of organic yogurts, following a period of growth since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The number of staff employed by the firm had grown to 85 and it held the number one position in the yogurt market in Ireland with a 19% share.

“Glenisk suppliers must be safeguarded at this time, and alternative arrangements put in place for the processing of the milk,” he said.

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