The Bishop of Killaloe has denounced the rise of a “two-tier Ireland” detrimental to the country’s rural regions after the announcement that the Irish subsidiary of US multinational Molex is to close and 500 jobs are to be lost.

Driving the news

Molex, a manufacturer of electronic, electrical and fiber optic interconnection systems, announced Tuesday that it plans to phase out production at its factory in Shannon, Country Clare, before closing the plant completely by the end of 2020.

The multinational said the Shannon factory will shut because of insufficient returns and growth.

Molex had been one of the biggest employers in the mid-west of Ireland since it set up there in 1971.

The Shannon plant will close just months short of Molex’s 50th anniversary in Ireland.

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Go deeper

In a statement, Bishop of Killaloe Fintan Monahan said he was “greatly concerned” at the news of Molex’s closure.

The prelate added that the 500 job losses were “a devastating blow to the employees, their families and to the local economy”, and a “dark cloud” hanging over the mid-west region.

“Shannon’s businesses have been struggling a lot in recent years and this news is devastating for the local economy”, Monahan denounced.

He said the announcement of the closure of the factory “not only directly affects Molex workers but, in addition, it jeopardises thousands of ancillary industries which rely for survival on the pay spend of these local workers”.

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Why it matters

While Monahan praised local workers’ “spirit and resilience”, he said the Molex closure “is evidence that we are living more-and-more in a two-tier Ireland – with the regions losing out”.

“My concern is that young families, people managing mortgages and domestic bills, with child care commitments, will be the first impacted”, the bishop decried.

Monahan asked that Masses and prayers this weekend in the Diocese of Killaloe – which takes in portions of Counties Clare, Laois, Limerick, Offaly and Tipperary – be offered “for the intentions of employees, for the prospect of obtaining new skills and employment, and most of all that their hope in the future can be restored”.

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What’s next

The Bishop of Killaloe urged politicians “to act decisively and quickly in order to allay the fears of families and to serve the common good”.

He called directly on Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, “to prioritise our region in terms of sustaining employment opportunities for this skilled workforce” between now and the final closure at Molex at the end of next year.

Humphreys on Wednesday chaired a meeting of enterprise agencies, business interests, members of Clare County Council and both University of Limerick and Limerick IT, with the aim of finding new employment for the redundant Molex workers.

The Minister said the plant closure was very disappointing and a major blow, as was the news Wednesday that 320 Novartis workers in County Cork are also to lose their jobs.

Humphreys pledged to help both Molex and Novartis workers to upskill and find other jobs.

She also promised to work with the foreign direct investment authority IDA Ireland to find another investor for the Molex factory in Shannon.

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