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Saturday, September 18, 1999 Published at 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

Taskforce appeal after jobs blow

Clendinnings Textiles: Receiver hopes to find a buyer

The government has been urged to set up an employment taskforce in a Northern Ireland town which looks likely to be dealt a major jobs blow.

Social Democratic and Labour Party Assembly member Brid Rodgers wants action taken in Lurgan, County Armagh where a textiles plant has gone into receivership.

Clendinnings Textiles, which is based in a factory near the Kilwilkie housing estate, employs 100 people.

Ms Rodgers says the town, which is in an area of high unemployment, is too dependent on the textile industry.

Devastating blow

She said the announcement was a "devastating blow to the community".

"I want to call on the minister, John McFall, to act in conjunction with the Industrial Development Board (IDB) to set up a taskforce with the urgent remit of dealing with the fallout from this closure," she said.

"He must ensure there is something to fill the void which will be created by this blow to Lurgan."

Union official Mel Corry not hopeful for workers' jobs
Company chairman Bill Baird, said the market could not provide the volume of business needed to ensure the firm's viability.

Mr Baird also paid tribute to the company's workforce which he described as "excellent".

It is understood that negotiations to save the company had been under way for a number of weeks and involved the company's bank and the IDB.

The receiver moved into the factory on Friday following the conclusion of negotiations.

It is understood that Mr Baird has told the workers he will attempt to find another buyer for the firm.

Pessimistic about prospects

But the employees at Clendinnings are pessimistic about the prospects of retaining their jobs.

[ image: Mel Corry: not optimistic that jobs will be saved]
Mel Corry: not optimistic that jobs will be saved
Union official Mel Corry said that the announcement came as no great surprise to the workers.

"There's been a general downturn in the business over the last couple of years now," he said.

"The receivers say they're trying to find a buyer for the factory to keep it open as a going concern - but we're not too hopeful of that."

The latest closure is another indicator of the competition facing the textiles industry from the Far East and other areas where production costs are significantly lower than in Northern Ireland.

It is also another blow for the town.

Last year the Coats Viyella textile company closed down its Saracen plant in Lurgan with the loss of 500 jobs.

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