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Cookstown meat processing plant to close placing 82 jobs at risk

The red meat processing factory in Cookstown will close by the end of August (PA)
The red meat processing factory in Cookstown will close by the end of August (PA)

A meat processing facility in Cookstown is to close, putting the jobs of 82 workers at risk.

Northern Ireland-based Foyle Food Group Limited (FFG) has confirmed it is proposing to close its red meat processing facility in Derryloran Industrial Estate.

The Cookstown facility, which employs 82 people, will close on or by the end of August 2019.

The company has said it hopes to redeploy employees, where possible, amongst its other facilities.

A FFG spokesperson said: "We regret the decision to close the Cookstown facility, but this is a necessary consolidation of the group’s operations across our larger and more modern UK facilities, where we have made significant investment in recent years.

“Focusing processing at these sites will allow the group to remain a market-leader within the competitive red meat sector.

“We understand the impact that this proposal will have on our Cookstown workforce. Consultation with staff will begin immediately and we hope to redeploy as many as possible to our other plants.”

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FFG has operated in Northern Ireland for more than 40 years and currently employs over 1,300 people across the UK and Ireland.

The group’s eight other processing plants, across five sites in the UK and Ireland, are unaffected by the proposal.

The firm said its customers and suppliers will also be unaffected by the move.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill said that the news was a "huge blow" to the community.

“The company has said it plans to redeploy as many staff as possible, so the company needs to consult as quickly as possible with the workers and their trade unions," the Mid Ulster MLA said.

“My party colleague Councillor John McNamee and I have requested an urgent meeting with senior management at the Foyle Food Group following the announcement to ensure that workers at the plant get all the help they are entitled to.”

Cookstown UUP councillor Trevor Wilson said staff were shocked at the news.

“I have been contacted by a number of employees of the Foyle Hilton Meats plant based in Cookstown’s Derryloran Industrial Estate who were shocked to learn that they were being put on 30 days’ notice," he said.

“This news has come as a complete bombshell to the 82 workers and their families and is dreadful news for Cookstown and the surrounding area.

“As Chair of Mid-Ulster Council’s Development Committee I have asked for an urgent meeting with the owners and the plant’s management team to discuss what can be done to help the workers affected and to see if anything can be done to save these jobs for Cookstown.”

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