By Cian Molloy - 27 October, 2019
The closure of the Novartis factory in Ringaskiddy is a devastating blow to the company’s employees, their families and
the wider local community, said Bishop Fintan Gavin of Cork and Ross.
Bishop Gavin made his remarks during a pastoral visit to Carrigaline, the neighbouring parish to Ringaskiddy and home to a substantial proportion of Novartis workers and their families.
“My heart sank on Wednesday morning when details of the 320 job losses emerged,” said the bishop. “The fact that the announcement came suddenly and without warning to staff and to their families creates a huge insecurity and uncertainty for the many people employed in Novartis and others employed in the wider pharmaceutical industry.”
The Swiss-based multinational Novartis was one of the first major pharmaceutical companies to establish itself in Ireland when it set up a manufacturing plant in Ringaskiddy in the 1950s. The company’s presence helped earn Cork a global reputation as a centre of excellence for pharmaceutical manufacturing and research. In addition to the economic impact on employees and their families, the closure of the Novartis factory is a significant blow to the morale of the pharmaceutical sector generally.
“Carrigaline is just one of the communities that is now heavily dependent on the pharmaceutical sector and this announcement by Novartis highlights the danger of our dependence on global companies,” noted Bishop Gavin at yesterday’s 6 p.m. Vigil Mass in the Church of Ss Mary and John.
“Every effort needs to be made by government and the IDA to minimise the job losses, to support those who will lose their jobs, and to seek alternative employers to invest in the site. On Tuesday we celebrated the feast of Saint John Paul II, who highlighted the importance of a person’s dignity as a worker and the centrality of work to the human person as an opportunity to fulfil our God-given gifts.
“As a nation of people, we have developed an enormous reliance on the pharmaceutical sector. These industries have provided and continue to provide a valued livelihood to thousands of our people. However, at the same time, we can easily forget that these industries and their parent companies are global businesses: researching, producing and competing in a global market. As a nation, we need to ensure that our reliance on foreign direct investment does not lure us into a false sense of security. We need to invest more in our local indigenous industries and innovations.”
Calling on the Carrigaline parish community and other nearby parish communities to rally around to help those who will be in difficulty as a result of the factory closure,” Bishop Gavin said: “as parishes, we have a strong tradition of supporting people and families in times of worry and need. We will continue to do this.
“It is at the foot of the Cross that the Christian community is formed. 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.”