Dáil debates

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

10:00 pm

Photo of Billy KelleherBilly Kelleher (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)

I thank Deputy Allen for raising this matter. Like him, I am disappointed to hear about the job losses at this particular company. It is a historic company, being one of the oldest trading in Cork. Beamish has been synonymous with Cork for many years. Historians have reported there was a brewing site on South Main Street for over 400 years and Beamish has been on that site for centuries. Cork people have a strong emotional attachment to the brewery not just regarding the Beamish brand, but also the generations that have worked there.

Last Thursday, Heineken Ireland briefed its Beamish and Crawford staff on the conclusions of its integration review process following the recent unconditional approval by the independent Competition Authority regarding the acquisition of Beamish and Crawford.

Having reviewed the capability and capacity of the Beamish plant, the company decided, for its own reasons, to consolidate production in Heineken Ireland's Leitrim Street brewery in Cork and to close the Beamish and Crawford Brewery next year. The key considerations the company took into account in reaching its decision included an investment requirement of approximately €15 million to meet international brewing standards, difficulty of expansion at the Beamish site, excess brewing capacity at Heineken Ireland and changing market dynamics, resulting in a declining beer market.

As a result of the integration of the commercial and administrative activities, up to 40 employees from Beamish and Crawford will transfer to Heineken Ireland and it is anticipated that approximately 120 people will be made redundant. This has been a difficult decision for the company to make since it began operations in Cork in 1983 when it acquired Murphy's Brewery. The company has already agreed comprehensive severance terms with the trade unions. It will also provide whatever outplacement support is required, as well as career counselling, job search training and pension advice to all the staff who will lose their jobs.

In April 2008, Enterprise Ireland met with Heineken Ireland to discuss how the agency might work with the enlarged Heineken operations in Cork to develop their potential. This was with a view to enhancing its export capabilities and to exploring new investment opportunities. Further discussions were deferred pending the strategic review of the merger operations in Cork. Subsequent to the recent decision by Heineken Ireland, discussions took place with the company and a follow-up meeting will take place shortly.

The State development agencies are adopting a co-ordinated approach in response to these job losses. IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, FÁS and the county development board will be lending their assistance. This multi-agency approach is directed at assisting all the employees affected and seeks to enhance the future employment prospects of the workforce. The agencies will also support any individual who wishes to start his or her own business.

I accept the visit to Cork last week of the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment coincided with the Heineken Ireland announcement. However, her diary was organised for the announcement of 145 jobs in Option Wireless Limited in Kilbarry and up to 350 jobs at the Quinn Insurance call centre in Little Island some weeks before the Heineken Ireland announcement. It is unfair for the Deputy to suggest the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment was trying to camouflage the job losses at Beamish and Crawford.


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