Over 100 dairy jobs face uncertainty as Ballinasloe milk plant set to close

The east-Galway dairy milk plant employs 110 people.

AN ARRABAWN MILK plant in Kilconnell, outside Ballinasloe, will close next year after a board decision yesterday approved the sale of the company’s liquid milk sales book to another company but didn’t include the east Galway plant.

Arrabawn said it is looking at options for an alternative use and the Kilconnell operation, which employs 110 people, will transfer all sales employees to other facilities.

The deal is subject to approval from the Competition Authority.

If the deal goes ahead the Kilconnell plant will continue to operate until next summer.

Arrabawn said that milk supply and upcoming milk contracts will not be impacted by this decision.

In a statement today the company said:

“Arrabawn’s priority is to support all employees and suppliers during the transition. A consultation process is underway with staff to ensure all necessary supports are being provided during the transition.”

Roscommon-Galway Independent TD Denis Naughten has said that the plant’s closure is “devastating news”.

“This announcement is a huge blow to the staff employed both directly and indirectly, their families, particularly at a time of such economic uncertainty, as well as a vast part of the rural economy of East Galway,” he announced in a statement this morning. 

Naughten said he sought a meeting with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to “explore all possible options to retain processing capacity and employment in the village of Kilconnell.” 

“This is also a significant blow to local liquid milk suppliers who have invested significantly in their dairy farms to ensure that the Kilconnell plant was provided with milk supplies 365 days per year”. 

Michael Fitzmaurice, also an Independent TD in the constituency, said that Arrabawn has a moral obligation to the people of Kilconnell and the surrounding areas to support job replacement efforts.

“This decision is particularly disturbing given that in recent years millions have been invested in the plant. A move which many dairy farmers saw as an enduring commitment by the co-op to the region.”

“In a brief conversation with Arrabawn this morning, they have indicated to me that they are open to exploring alternative opportunities for the site with public representatives but at the moment there doesn’t appear to be a plan”

“In this conversation, I requested a meeting with Arrabawn to discuss the job losses but let there be no false hope about retaining these jobs peddled by populists, as this decision is made.”

Fine Gael senator Aisling Dolan also expressed concerns about the plant’s closure, stating:

“Facing into an uncertain winter with this news is the worst possible development for all in east Galway. It is a major shock.”

“Now, the focus has to be on the security of all jobs there. There is a proud history here and it is an excellent dairy processing facility,” Senator Dolan said.

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