29 January 2015 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Carrickmacross, indeed the county at large, is still reeling from last week’s shock announcement of the impending closure of the Bose audio systems manufacturing facility in South Monaghan.

“Shock” is a word perhaps too automatically appended to headlines concerning bad industrial news, but in this instance it is the apposite term.

Not just the 140 employees, whose plight has attracted universal and deserved sympathy and support, but industry observers and the relevant agencies of Government and State were taken aback by the blunt disclosure, which was not presaged by any significant ill-omens of incipient decline in the parent company’s fortunes.

Indeed, the move appears motivated by a desire to relocate the manufacturing base in order to enhance the growth of a proven and profitable business, rather than a downsizing measure to rescue an ailing one.

This perception has sharpened the widespread criticism Bose’s decision has attracted, and the reaction of those public representatives who have diagnosed a mercenary ruthlessness in the decision is understandable. So is the counterbalancing emphasis placed by some, such as Monaghan Co Council’s Chief Executive Eugene Cummins, on the significant investment Bose has made over a long number of years in Carrickmacross and its people, and the contribution made by the US company to the prosperity of its workforce and the wider community.

Neither criticism of Bose for opting to remove itself from Co Monaghan, nor commendation of the company for the legacy they have left, appears of significant weight to bear sufficiently influentially to prompt a reversal of the decision.

The tenor of the announcement has all the characteristics of a fait accompli, and the energies of those who have taken up the cause of attempting to lessen the impact of the significant employment blow the county stands to suffer would appear to be more profitably expended elsewhere.

One cause that must be advocated zealously is the moral as well as the legal obligation due the loyal Bose workforce with respect to full and generous redundancy settlements. It is to be sincerely hoped that a company that prided itself in fostering a strong esprit de corps among its employees will not be found wanting in this regard.

The other pressing need that must engage the influence and wits of our public representatives at all levels is the securing of an alternative enterprise or enterprises for South Monaghan to compensate for the significant loss of employment that is pending. Ideally this need would be supplied in a manner that provided alternative job opportunities for the Bose staff.

While their skills are specialised, the point was well made by Monaghan Co Council Cathaoirleach Pádraig McNally at the special meeting of the local authority he convened last Friday that they are of such a proven calibre that many other companies in the same sphere of production would surely be covetous of their acquisition.

Alternatively there are the considerable training resources at the disposal of the Cavan Monaghan Education and Training Board and the expertise and mentoring for new business start-ups available through the Monaghan Local Enterprise Office – and both bodies were commendably prompt in placing their services at the disposal of the workers and thereby shining a light of hope into the lives of people who could be forgiven the sensation of being suddenly plunged into an endless darkness.

A particular responsibility rests on the shoulders of Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton to act decisively to lessen the grievous economic blow that has befallen Co Monaghan. Our county already had an outstanding case, given the conspicuous neglect of the past, for being prioritised as a location for future foreign direct investment – given the Bose announcement, we would now seem to have virtual entitlement to favourable consideration by the IDA in this regard.

Past governments have set a somewhat shameful precedent in allowing past significant job losses in this county, particularly its northern half, to go unaddressed and uncompensated for. The present administration can surely not follow the suit of such inaction and still claim to be aggressively fostering job creation and coaxing the nascent national economic recovery into a real and viable one.

The Bose news has also, by invidious comparison, added timbre to the regular clarion calls being sounded lately about the need to prioritise the growth and development of small enterprise within the county. It is not to necessarily critique the sometimes questionable long-term commitment of some multi-nationals to their Irish operations to recognise the soundness and as well as the topicality of this demand.

Many of Co Monaghan’s most celebrated business success stories had their germination in the inventive imaginations and astute business sense possessed by the (initially) small entrepreneur, and this enduring trait will surely play its full part in bringing about a sustainable economic recovery here if it is given adequate supports and encouragements.

Our local public representatives at Co Council and Municipal District level have acted with alacrity to prompt the relevant Government Depts and agencies into action in the aftermath of the Bose announcement. That action must come expediently and positively, and ensure that the grim cloud that hovers over the economic health of our county is dispelled.

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