Aughinish staff don’t have the luxury of a boycott

The red mud settling pond at the Aughinish Alumina plant.

by Alan Jacques

[email protected]

INDEPENDENT councillor Emmett O’Brien has hit back at reports over a Dublin company boycotting the Aughinish Alumina plant in County Limerick over its Russian ties.

The managing director of a Dublin firm, who is a member of Fine Gael, recently wrote to Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar asking why the Askeaton refinery remained open.

In a protest over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the company declined to install new hygiene units at Aughinish despite the fact it would have meant “significant additional business”.

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Rusal Aughinish is linked to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who holds a stake in the County Limerick-based company. Deripaska, who is considered Vladimir Putin’s favourite industrialist, reduced his controlling stake in Aughinish in 2019 to 49 per cent after he faced US sanctions.

The small Dublin firm boycotting Aughinish, which directly employs 460 people at its County Limerick refinery, provides some hygiene consumables to the plant, but has no direct contractual relationship with the company.

“We refused to send a service crew into Rusal Limerick to install some new units which would have meant significant additional business for our small company, as a sub-contractor. We could not countenance it even though it has put us in a strained position with our facilities company customer,” the company explained in their letter to the Tánaiste.

Opened in 1983, the alumina plant has defined Aughinish and surrounding districts for decades and now faces an uncertain future for its Limerick workforce, along with hundreds of other local jobs dependent on its existence.

Adare-Rathkeale representative Cllr Emmett O’Brien told the Limerick Post, “The company director is entitled to provide or not provide his services to whomever he wants but the 1,000, direct and indirect, employees of Aughinish don’t have that luxury,” Cllr O’Brien said.

“Aughinish is a great employer in an area hurting from crippling cost of living caused by this directors’ political party. I stand fully with with my neighbours and local employees of Aughinish.”