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Short-term buyer secured for Avara as workers continue to fight for their future

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Avara’s short-term future has been guaranteed as a buyer of the site has been secured which will keep workers in employment in Shannon until July while efforts are continuing to put long-term arrangements in place.

Last July, the pharmaceutical firm was ordered into liquidation plunging its staff of 114 into redundancy. Statutory redundancies have been issued to the employees who in November told The Clare Echo of their frustration on the delay for such payments, the staggered basis of which forced staff to set up their own company, Eirchem Pharmaceuticals Services which has taken over the running of operations from Avara.

Appointed liquidators KPMG in the last fortnight have enticed United Metals to acquire the site. As part of the production plan, twenty employees will leave the Shannon factory at the end of March with more to follow in April and May. As per the plan, the site will be free of chemicals and powders by the end of July, the same month will also see the last batch of employees conclude their service.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, employee representative John Casey outlined, “The positive of United Metals coming along and offering the site to Eirchem while it is good news is only short term at the minute. The asset will be leased from United Metals for the next number of months, Eirchem will proceed and produce Nitrates in order to facilitate old customers’ orders. For some of the customers Avara was a single source provider of Nitrates and these customers now need to go and find another source to keep their business going into the future”.

“It must be said that the situation where employees take up the mantle of running a pharmaceutical plant themselves is unprecedented and much praise must be given to each and every worker at the Shannon site”.

He credited Clare TDs, Joe Carey (FG) and Timmy Dooley (FF) for intervening during the liquidation process and believed their input had a big role in getting a short-term solution. Casey also acknowledged the efforts of Minister for State Pat Breen (FG) but stated he was “not always transparent”.

“Pat Breen introduced a colleague and I to Minister Humphreys at the Enterprise Ireland office in Shannon in October and assured us that everything would be done to mitigate the consequences of the job losses in the Mid-West Region. Minister Humphreys alluded to a collective agreement made at the Enterprise Ireland meeting that opportunities must be created in the region to offset these job losses. To date we have had no follow up as to what the Mid-West Regional Enterprise Plan for the area is”.

Eirchem are currently attempting to find “a suitable investor” for the site to curtail job losses. Employees have called on Enterprise Ireland and the IDA to “keep the one hundred plus jobs viable in Shannon”. The Clarecastle man concluded, “This is a unique opportunity to keep high calibre employment for locals in the area. Where there is life there is hope so we will see what the spring will bring”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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