The Bishop of Cork & Ross has deplored the loss of 320 jobs at the Ringaskiddy plant of pharmaceutical giant Novartis.

Driving the news

“My heart sank when like so many others I turned on the radio on Wednesday morning as details of the 320 job losses at Novartis, Ringaskiddy, emerged”, Bishop Fintan Gavin told massgoers at the Church of St Mary and St John in Carrigaline, County Cork, on Saturday evening.

“It is a devastating blow to the employees, their families and to the wider community”.

Gavin decried the “huge insecurity and uncertainty” the layoffs had caused not only for the Novartis workers but also for other employees in the wider pharmaceutical industry in the Cork region.

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Go deeper

The bishop called on the government and on the direct foreign investment agency IDA Ireland to put “every effort” into minimising the job losses, into supporting those newly out of work and into finding other investors for the Ringaskiddy site.

But he warned that the shock of the redundancies at Novartis also highlights “the danger of our dependence on global companies”.

Ireland has developed “an enormous reliance on the pharmaceutical sector”, Gavin explained.

That sector has provided and continues to provide “a valued livelihood to thousands of our people”, the bishop said.

But despite that support, Irish people shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that these pharmaceutical industries and their parent companies “are global businesses: researching, producing and competing in a global market”, Gaving warned.

“As a nation, we need to ensure that our reliance on foreign direct investment does not lure us into a false sense of security”, the bishop cautioned.

“We need to invest more in our local indigenous industries and innovations”, he insisted.

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Why it matters

Gavin said the “out-of-the-blue” news from Novartis “reminds us that, as local communities, we need to strengthen our ties with neighbours and friends, always aware of who is beside us and of their needs”.

“As parishes, we have a strong tradition of supporting people and families in times of worry and need. We will continue to do this”, the bishop promised.

He added that Carrigaline will survive because it is “a very strong parish-faith community, which has successfully developed to embrace so many new people and families”.

But Gavin also said that “in these times of uncertainty for people, we all respond as a Christian family with prayerful support, with hope and with practical expressions of Christian solidarity”.

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