There are fears for the future of 169 jobs at the Andersen Ireland plant in Rathkeale after the parent company PL Holdings announced this week that they were putting the company into voluntary liquidation.

Andersen Ireland has been manufacturing costume jewellery in the town for over 35 years, and the announcement has come as a shock, not only to the workers and local manage-ment but also to the entire community of west Limerick.

The company, which is the biggest in the town, will continue to trade until 23rd September when the liquidator will come in and it is hoped THAT he or she will find a formula to save some or most of the jobs at the plant. Continued losses generated by significant over-capacity at its production facility were cited by the company as the reason for the decision.

Should the company be liquidated, it would be a huge blow to the economy of the town. “We will wait and see. Hopefully there will be a resolution, the liquidator has yet to make a decision. If the jobs are lost it will have a huge adverse affect on the town,” said local businessman Damien O’Grady, who runs Rathkeale House Hotel nearby. “We had a lot of people who came from abroad to visit the factory on business stay at the hotel. There are two weeks to go, politicians and state agencies are working on it. Hopefully a resolution will be found that will save some or all of the jobs. There is a very skilled workforce there and should there be a worst case scenario, somebody else will come in and take it on.”

“It is a shock to Rathkeale and surrounding areas if it closes,” was the reaction of local Community Council chairman Padraig Doherty. “If the worst comes to the worst, our aim is to work with local politicians and national government to get another employer into Rathkeale as soon as possible. We have no control over the liquidator, all we can do is work to ensure that there are continuing employ-ment opportunities in the town of Rathkeale,” Mr. Doherty stated.

It is going to be an anxious ten days for the workers, many of whom have been with the company for over thirty years, as they await the outcome of the liquidator’s examination later this month. See political reaction on page 33.