Gallagher's job losses - what the locals are saying

Gallagher's job losses - what the locals are saying

Gallagher's job losses - what the locals are saying

By Sue Doherty

Philomena, Matthew and Caroline Whyte of Charlie's West End Cafe

"It's a sad day for the whole community", Philomena commented. "They came to Donegal to get Frank Gallagher's trade and the brand name - no odds about the wee fella living away up in Ardara in the back of beyond.

"It's terrible for the workers, many of whom left school early, with no real qualifications, to go work at the bakery."

Matthew added: "I've four first cousins who are probably all going to lose their jobs, as well as their father and their sister, who works in the office. Two of the boys live with him and, like him, they're fitters. It's going to put terrible pressure on them.

"I have a lot of good friends working there too and at least five of them are already planning to emigrate. There's talk about putting in programmes to train and upskill the workers who lose their jobs, so that they can find new ones. But that's totally impossible."

Both agreed that the knock-on effect will probably mean further jobs losses in other local businesses.

"It's a disaster for us, we'll lose so many of our regulars, and it will be the same for other businesses, not just in the town, but right throughout the south and west of the county."

Caroline believes the all IAWS/Aryzta brands should be boycotted. "I'll not be buying their products. The whole company should be boycotted. It's just greed that's behind the company's decision, that's all it is."

Frank McGee

"It's a disaster for the area on all fronts. The knock-on effects are going to be harder to measure, apart from the initial direct impact, and not just in Ardara, it's the whole area that will be affected.

"We had an inkling for some time. There were rumours that there were plans to move the production to Dublin. It wasn't surprising when it happened."

"I knew Frank and I'd say he'd be very disappointed. He built up the bakery as a whole family and community thing and now the whole community is going to suffer."

Damien Diver, Centra

"It's such a major blow. 150 jobs here is like 5,000 in Dublin. People will all be affected, either directly or indirectly. For example, there are lots of employees renting properties around the town, and people who live outside the town spending money here. That will be gone.

"There is a real sense of a big company that will walk over anybody to pay shareholders. It's a real pity. The French Mill line was doing very well, with a major share of the market."

Mary Kelly, nee McHugh, secretary of the local GAA club

"It's terrible news for the workers, the town and the whole of southwest Donegal.

"The club will be badly affected too. Lots of our players worked in the bakery all year ‘round while others, who are at university, were able to get seasonal work there for the summers and that meant they could play for the club.

"A lot of them will emigrate now. They're already making their plans."

John O'Donnell, who has worked at Gallagher's Bakery for 35 years

"I'm the longest there, 35 years. The company are telling us that they will try to give us four months work but I don't know what will happen.

"It's just a plc like any other now. All they're interested in is making money for their shareholders.

"Didn't they choose their moment right to break the news - just as the Dail's breaking up for an election?

"The decision wasn't about profitability. Cuisine de France isn't making money, French Mill is. They already shut down two big plants before they built the new one at Grange. At the same time though, I suppose it's true that, when the building industry was doing well, we would have sold tentimes as many breadrolls as now.

"I'm a fitter. I said I'd take redundancy so that maybe one of the younger lads with a family can be kept on.

"This is the last industry in Ardara. We had two textile factories that each employed 120 workers, now there's not ten working between them."

‘Won't go to Dublin'

One worker at the bakery, who did not want to be named, said he didn't think there'd be many takers for the 25 jobs that may be on offer at the Cuisine de France Bakery in Dublin. "We're on the minimum wage now. We can't afford to go down and pay rent in Dublin. The company know that there will be more cheap labour available in Dublin now too, with the cut in the minimum wage that's being brought in."

‘Keep the fresh goods business going'

A businessman in the town, who also did not want to be named, said: "At least if they can keep the fresh business going, that would mean something. If they can at least save 40 jobs, it would make a big difference around here."