Heritage bosses say no internal redundancies as outsourcing goes ahead

Bunratty Castle.

SHANNON Heritage DAC has stated that there will be no redundancies among their own staff, including at the ionic Bunratty Castle Banquets experience, and business will continue as normal under plans to outsource some of the services at its heritage sites.

It was confirmed last week that the food, beverage, and retail elements at Shannon Heritage sites, including Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, the Inis Cealtra Visitors Centre (which is currently under construction), and Knappogue Castle are to be outsourced in the new year.

Food preparation at the banquets and other events at Bunratty, along with food and drink services in Mac’s Pub in the village as well as the public cafe, are all currently provided by one outside catering company.

In January, the managing company will advertise for tenders for the catering and retail roles.

Earlier this week, SIPTU, the union representing the workers involved, said that 18 of their members had been asked to attend meetings without being given an opportunity to have union representation with them, at which they were told “their role was at risk of redundancy”.

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In a statement to the Limerick Post on behalf of Clare County Council, which now has responsibility for the Shannon Heritage sites, a spokesman said: “There will be no redundancies arising from the proposed outsourcing of retail, food, and beverage operations within Shannon Heritage DAC. Furthermore, compulsory redundancies are not proposed for Shannon Heritage DAC. Shannon Heritage DAC will be meeting with SIPTU officials in the coming days.”

Clare County Council intends to outsource the food, beverage, and retail jobs at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Craggaunowen, and Knappogue Castle, as well as the retail unit at the Cliffs of Moher Experience.

The union now claims that this outsourcing will result in job losses, but management has reassured workers in the employ of Shannon Heritage that their jobs are safe.

There is also a possibility that the catering company, which is currently providing food services for the sites, could be successful if they join the tendering process, having been involved in food preparation for the banquets and other events since 2016.

In a statement, the local authority said: “As part of a corporate restructuring of Shannon Heritage DAC, Clare County Council has confirmed it will be appointing two specialist retail, food, and beverage operators for its newly acquired visitor attractions.”

“A key requirement of the operating conditions will be that all future service providers must support local suppliers and producers in Clare.

“All 66 employees, including 31 full-time and 35 part-time workers, will be transferred to the new operators in April 2024. Staff pay and conditions are protected under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations”.