THE upbeat feeling around the town of Westport after last week’s big announcement of expansion by Allergan Pharmaceuticals even permeated the offices of Westport Town Council last week. Councillors congregated on Thursday evening last to adopt a budget for the authority for the coming year but the opening of the meeting was dominated by the news of the Allergan jobs boost.
Cathaoirleach of the council, Cllr Christy Hyland got the ball rolling. He said he could feel that everyone in the room was upbeat, adding that the news of the Allergan expansion had securing the facility’s future in the town for another 25 years.
“This consolidation is great news as Allergan have raised a lot of families in this town and that is now going to continue. At a time when there is a general lack of confidence among the business community, this can only be welcomed and we as a council can look forward to investing in this town’s future,” said the Cathaoirleach.
Cllr Myles Staunton said the decision taken by the council to set up a Multi-Agency Task Group, who set us the Enterprise Centre which now had beentaken over by Allergan, had been fully vindicated.
“There must have been huge competition among Allergan’s existing facilities to attract this expansion so the main credit has to go to the management and staff of the Westport facility for making this happen,” said Cllr Staunton.
Cllr Margaret Adams said she was delighted with the news and added that the council themselves now had to go out and source another building to house the Enterprise Centre.
Her Fianna Fáil colleague, Cllr Brendan Mulroy, said the news proved Westport was ‘bucking the national trend’ and was ‘open for business’.
“This is most definitely a shot in the arm for the town. Employment leads to improvement in quality of life and we have the facilities in this town to ensure that quality of life outside of work,” said Cllr Mulroy.
Cllr Martin Keane, who himself was an employee of Allergan for some 28 years, paid particular tribute to the late Myles Staunton, who he said had done so much to bring the Allergan facility to Westport in the first place.
“I am sure his son Myles, who is sitting here beside me, is still proud of Myles Snr’s achievement as it was his vision which was central in Allergan setting up in Westport from day one,” added Cllr Keane.
Cllr Ollie Gannon is still a member of the Allergan workforce and he said the announcement of the expansion had made him ‘personally very proud to be part of the workforce’.
“I see, day on day, the commitment of every member of staff, and the euphoria among the staff in the plant was palpable on Tuesday and Wednesday. We must remember that Allergan has attracted employees from all over the country, not just Westport.”
Cllr Gannon also paid tribute to a past Managing Director of Allergan, Colam O’Neill, who along with his successor, Pat O’Donnell had done so much for the company.
Cllr Tereasa McGuire said the news meant Allergan would now have a workforce in excess of 1,000 people and she hoped the news would not lead to the sustainability of smaller businesses in the town.
“It is clear, to borrow a phrase from another multi-national in this county (Coca-Cola) that Allergan’s ethos is ‘Think Global, Act Local’ as they have supported a number of initiatives in this town,” said Cllr McGuire.
Cllr Michael McLaughlin said although it was never stated, there was a fear among people in the town that Allergan would one day leave but that had now been alleviated for the foreseeable future.
Town manager Joe Beirne said the feeling at the meeting was so upbeat that he was now sorry he had not asked for a 20 per cent rise in the rates for the coming year. He said many people had worked hard in securing the announcement, adding that it was great to see the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny and local Minister of State, Michael Ring, together with County Manager Peter Hynes and Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Austin F O’Malley all welcoming such good news for the town.