More than 100 jobs under threat at Ballinasloe plant

US firm considering closure of local facility

There are serious concerns about the future of just over 100 jobs at the Ballinasloe base of US manufacturing firm Aptar, which is understood to be considering closing in the months ahead.

The company, which has its only Irish facility at the IDA Business and Technology Park on the Creagh Road in Ballinasloe, makes dispensing units for the cosmetics industry.

No official statement was forthcoming from Aptar up to the time of writing yesterday (Tuesday), but it's understood that workers were briefed about the potential closure last Thursday, and fears about the company's future have been voiced by local Senator Eugene Murphy and TD Denis Naughten.

"Regrettably, in my view, it looks to me that the company's definite intention is to pull out of Ballinasloe," local Senator Murphy told the Westmeath Independent yesterday (Tuesday). His understanding was that the facility may close by September, which he said would be "a devastating blow" for Ballinasloe and surrounding areas.

"It's terrible news, and it will hit South Roscommon and the Athlone region pretty badly as well. There's a lot of workers from the region in that factory and again, for a small town of less than 7,000 people, it's a huge blow.

"I've seen some of the language that the company are using and, to me, it seems very much the case that they are withdrawing but are doing it very subtly and very patiently."

Deputy Denis Naughten was planning to raise the threatened closure of the Aptar facility with the new Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Vardakar, in the Dáil yesterday.

"The decision by Aptar to review its operation in the town over the coming weeks will cause huge anxiety, not just for the employees but also the local suppliers to the company, and we need to see action on the ground," said Deputy Naughten.

"I will be requesting that the Tanaiste, Leo Vardakar, bring together all of the State agencies, and the two local authorities in Galway and Roscommon, to implement a co-ordinated strategy for the town and the surrounding communities."

Senator Murphy said he had seen correspondence issued to Aptar staff last week in which the company expressed misgivings about insurance and other costs associated with doing business in Ireland. The Fianna Fáil representative said last week's news had come as a shock to the staff.

"It would appear, from talking to the workers, that this has come as a bolt out of the blue. Some workers informed me that they were so busy they had gone on a 60-hour week, because with the business they're in, dispensers, business went up when the pandemic hit," he said.

This newspaper contacted the Aptar facility on Friday and was told that media queries were being directed to the firm's head office in the US. We emailed the US office but, at the time of writing, we had not received a response.

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