Some 240 jobs will be lost in Co Clare with the closure of Roche pharmaceuticals facility.
Management at the Roche pharmaceuticals facility in Clarecastle near Ennis today told staff the company will leave the site, which it has been at since 1974, although they aim to secure a buyer for the site – in the hope of supplying new employment for those let go.
Sinéad O'Rourke , Communications Manager at Roche Pharmaceuticals, told Newstalk the company is "looking into divestment options as the best way to ensure long-term sustainable workplaces for our colleagues.
"On the one hand, we are looking at reputable long-term partners that can grow their business by continuing to support the manufacturing of products for Roche. On the other hand, we are looking at securing long-term employment for our impacted employees."
Roche has said they will engage with the Department of Enterprise and IDA to source a buyer.
The company aim to search for a buyer until mid-2016. If at that point none has been found a “phased approach” will be taken to the closure of the facility, with full closure coming at some stage between 2018 and 2019.
The announcement “came as a complete shock,” SIPTU Sector Organiser Alan O’Leary said.
The closure “is of massive concern to all in the local community,” adding that “union representatives are seeking an urgent meeting with the company to discuss how these jobs can be saved.”
The union will, if necessary, work with government agencies to find “an appropriate buyer for the pant,” he said.
Approximately 100 SIPTU members are employed at the plant in process operations and laboratory technician roles.
Clare Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley has said the announcement is a “devastating bolt out of the blue.”
“A huge effort is needed now from the Government to work on finding an appropriate buyer for the plant and work on saving these jobs,” he said.
The decision to leave the site is due to “underutilisation as a result of the company’s evolving portfolio” the company says.
“A new generation of specialised medicines based on small molecules requires novel manufacturing technologies and will be produced in lower volumes than traditional medicines,” the company said in a statement.
This closure at Clarecastle is one of four worldwide, including closures in the US, Spain, and Italy – with all four closures set to be completed by 2021 if replacement buyers for the facilities cannot be sourced.
“Today is a very difficult day for everyone on site. Clarecastle has been a significant and successful manufacturing site since 1974 and the proposal for Roche to exit the site is in no way a reflection on the performance of the people or the site,” said Gerry Cahill, Managing Director, Roche Ireland Limited.
“We will do our utmost to support our colleagues during this transition.”
The company say they “will now enter into formal consultation with employees and their representatives ... and will provide all the necessary and appropriate support.”