Cautious welcome for easing of Aughinish sanctions

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The Rusal Aughinish Alumina plant at Askeaton.

THE announcement this week that the United States is to ease sanctions impacting on Rusal, the company that owns Aughinish Alumina in Askeaton, have been cautiously welcomed.

Fianna Fáil Trade Spokesperson Niall Collins believes the easing of sanctions allows management at the plant time and space to engage with their suppliers whilst simultaneously offering an opportunity to Rusal’s owner Oleg Deripaska, who was targeted in the sanctions list announced earlier this month by the US Treasury Department, to step away from ownership of the company in a structured manner.

“It’s is of the utmost importance that the Irish Government keeps in constant contact with the US Government both directly and through our diplomatic channels to ensure that no job losses occur as a result of these sanctions. As a local TD representing many of the workers at Aughinish I’ll continue to work with the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney to ensue the best possible outcome,” Deputy Collins commented.

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However, Independent councillor for Adare-Rathkeale Municipal District, Emmett O’Brien, insists that the government needs to realise there’s a 1000 jobs on the line with huge ramifications for the rural hinterland of Limerick.

“The sanctions have caused immediate worry amongst the workers in Aughinish and the contractors supplying to the plant. There is a significant concern that production may be reduced or halted but I am reliably informed that Aughinish has enough raw materials and by products to keep operating for some time yet,” Cllr O’Brien told the Limerick Post.

“Clearly Aughinish is a smaller pawn in a political war between Trump and Putin but our government, which has been weak and incipit in dealing with the homeless crisis, fodder crisis and hospital trollies, needs to realise there’s a 1000 jobs on the line with huge ramifications for the rural hinterland of Limerick.

“We need less spin and more decisive action on a European stage from the Taoiseach and proper pressure and representation from our local TDs on this issue whom to date have been silent and ineffective,” he declared.

Speaking to the Limerick Post this Wednesday, Fine Gael councillor for the district, Adam Teskey, also warned that any job losses would be devastating for Aughinish staff to contend with.

“Families depend on these wages to provide food, pay for education and mortgages, and job losses of this scale would hit our local economy severely. Also, the businesses that supply products or produce, would be unable to continue in business. But unfortunately the stark reality is that these actions that have been taken are outside of our control,” he concluded.

by Alan Jacques

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