While 259 jobs were created in the Donegal Gaeltacht in 2011, the year ended with a net loss of 131 jobs, due largely to the closure of Gallagher’s Bakery in Ardara, Údarás na Gaeltachta reported.
In their end-of-year statement, Údarás reported there were 1,876 full-time equivalent jobs in Údarás-supported companies in the Donegal Gaeltacht at the end of 2011.
Looking ahead, Liam Ó Cuinneagáin, Údarás chairperson, said yesterday he has been told the authority will soon be able to appoint a new chief executive, a position that has been vacant for nearly two years.
Gaeltacht-wide, Údarás reported 734 new jobs last year, similar to the numbers added in 2010, though there was still a net loss of 104 jobs. Employment in all Údarás client companies stood at 7,500 at the end of 2010.
Údarás reported the jobs lost over the past year is 40 percent less than the number lost in 2009 and the lowest in the last decade. Údarás said their strategy to focus on supporting existing business has helped job retention.
Mr. Cuinneagáin also said Dinny McGinley, TD, minister of state for the Gaeltacht, said he expected the authority to soon start the process of appointing a full-time chief executive. The position has been vacant since April of 2010, when Padraig Ó hAolain stepped down. Seán Ó Labhraí is acting chief executive.
“I have gone to successive board meetings, telling the board members that I’ve been assured that we would be given the go-ahead to start our process,” Mr. Ó Cuinneagáin said. “I’m going into a board meeting this coming Friday and really do want to be able to say we’ve got a go-ahead to appoint a CEO.”
“A new chief executive is not the be-all and end-all, but it means the employees and the other executives and staff in the agency are assured the agency has got a future,” he said, adding, “It comes down to confidence in the structure.”
Locally, jobs were created last year at R.A. Pacáistí Teo, Éist and Cuidiú Teo, Largo Foods and Fáisc Miotail Teo on the Gaoth Dobhair Business Park, and Snáth Chill Chartha and Cuan Tamhnaigh Teo, textile companies in south-west Donegal.
Údarás reported that a large number of job losses were due to the closure of Gal Ard Teo, Gallagher’s Bakery, which employed 184 people. But a new bakery company that employs 50 people, Arán Ard Teo, was established under the management of Declan Gallagher.
Largo invested €2.6 million in its Gaoth Dobhair plant and Randox Teo acquired the Dungloe building it leased from Údarás for €1 million. Development of the €8 million Áislann Gaoth Dobhair continues, with completion of a business incubation centre expected to draw up to 10 technology-sector microbusinesses this year.
“We have a particular responsibility to go out there pro-actively to help the communities we’re serving, because they’re suffering at the minute,” Mr. Ó Cuinneagáin said. “There’s no doubt about that.”