WHERE TO NOW FOR FERMOY?
Michael Hanley, local town councillor and member of the Fermoy Enterprise Board, has aired his views on the recent turn of events that has seen SCI shed 130 jobs in the town and Quinn-healthcare announce a move to its Little Island complex.
Speaking ahead of a special meeting of Fermoy Town Council where the recent developments were discussed, Cllr Hanley again expressed his shock at the decision by Quinn-healthcare.
“I would like to restate my own personal bitter disappointment at this development which to me presents the town with very very serious difficulties with particular reference to the climate we currently find ourselves in,” Cllr Hanley told The Avondhu.
“Our first concern must be for all employees and I would be asking management locally to consider the concerns of Fermoy town and region staff in terms of their need to now have to travel to Little Island and whilst it is nice and obviously good to think that the jobs as such are not lost, the reality now is that many face new challenges in terms of the extra costs associated with the job.”
“When I say I want management to give serious consideration to staff I mean that rotas should be flexible to accommodate carpooling or perhaps organise a bus to bring local staff to work in the new location.”
“I deeply regret what has happened. The site in question in Fermoy is a fabulous one and I am quite sure that given time the community will see something new go into it. It certainly won’t be for the want of trying,” he said.
Speaking to this paper briefly before the Quinn announcement was made, Cllr Hanley said that the future considerations must bear in mind the progress Fermoy as a town has made in terms of its infrastructure, and that all plans must be realistic. When asked what Fermoy as a town can do to recover from the falling numbers in employment locally, Cllr Hanley was frank.
“There is nothing that the town itself can do, this is one of the features that I hope will be the outcome of this recession, that common sense will come back into the story. First of all, businesses are the engine of growth for towns; that has to be recognised and supported every way possible.
I am 35 years on the side of the street trading. There was a Fermoy Development Organisation in the late fifties, early sixties, that was trying to do their bit to promote and develop Fermoy. There were a lot of serious minded people involved, many professional people included,” he explained.
“However, in the seventies and eighties the town died a dramatic death in terms of employment because of the major oil price hike and interest rate hikes. The result for Fermoy was that 800 jobs, and that figure is documented, were lost in construction, in retail and the car industry.
"Fermoy was once known as the ‘town of a thousand cars,’ because of the strength of the car industry here. At that time the town suffered grievously and as such had a bad legacy coming forward,” he added.
Cllr Hanley explained that this ‘bad legacy’ must be remembered when addressing the potential that now lies in the town.
“Everyone knows about the Fermoy Enterprise Board’s record. Credit too must go to Cork County Council, Fermoy Town Council, the IDA and Enterprise Ireland. That has left Fermoy today with a very valuable industrial infrastructure. When we first set out we didn’t have that,” he said, “but where we are now, we must not let the following fact escape us; every town is in competition.
"The problem therein is politicians, specifically establishing where their loyalties lie in terms of where they support development.” Cllr Hanley said that Fermoy will pull through the recession, and continue to encourage local industries, but that the road ahead is not a smooth one.
“This town offered 100% support for Sanmina-SCI and will continue to do so through various groups, but on the other hand there is no point in people indulging in pious platitudes when they can do nothing to help the situation. It is time for us as a community to stand tall, confess our sins where we have to and address our priorities,” he concluded.
Thursday 12th March 5:31pm