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Another factory to close in Donegal

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — The loss of a another 136 textile jobs in Donegal has been described as a "shattering blow" to the county by Sports and Tourism Minister Dr. Jim McDaid.

After they recently returned to work after an extended Christmas break designed to reduce inventory, workers at the Austin Reed group’s shirt-making factory were told the factory will close at the end of February.

The British company has been suffering from stiff competition from low-cost economies and this, combined with the strength of sterling, was hitting markets.

McDaid, who is TD for Donegal North-East, revealed the closure as he announced a £500,000 initiative for ex-Fruit of the Loom workers. About 770 jobs are to be axed by the Chicago-based company and three clothing factories are to be shut down.

Guarantees have been given by the company that another 700 jobs will stay until the end of this year and the remaining 600 jobs will remain until the end of 2005. Under the terms of the deal, Fruit of the Loom will close down T-shirt plants at Milford, Raphoe and Malin Head with the loss of 650 jobs in the first three months of the year. Another 120 people in support services at the Buncrana factory will also be made redundant.

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McDaid said that training is available for those who want to work in the tourism industry and he hoped this might help alleviate the "devastating blow" suffered by the county’s textile workers.

He said 45 percent of manufacturing and service industries in Donegal were in the textile industry.

"Fruit of the Loom and Austin Reed will not be the only areas in the textile industry to lose jobs in the coming year," McDaid said. "It’s unfortunate that we have to say that, but this whole area has been for a long time under a cloud with the fact that labor is cheaper in other countries."

He said there would have to be a greater focus for the tourist industry in Donegal, which was the natural hinterland for Derry — the fourth largest city on the island.

McDaid said there was a labor shortage of about 4,000 jobs in the tourism industry and about a quarter of these were in the northwest region.

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