OVER 50 CONSTRUCTION jobs are to be created in west Fermanagh over the coming year after £23m work was announced at the Ora More wind project, two miles north of Belcoo.
National Toll Roads (NTR plc) announced yesterday the acquisition of the 15 megawatt (MW) Ora More wind project from RES, a leading renewable energy developer.
The project is expected to enter construction in the autumn, creating over 50 construction jobs over the coming year with commissioning targeted for the final quarter of 2016.
Capital costs for the project are over £23m, which will be financed by equity and project finance debt NTR have said. Upon completion Ora More is expected to produce over 42,000 MWhr of green energy per year, enough to support the annual electricity requirements of just under 10,000 homes.
Trade unionist and Belcoo resident Donal O’Cofaigh explained that NTR consulted the local community extensively and said there was general support for the project.
“This is a very significant investment and there is a need for us all to support the investment in renewable generating capacity. The thing for us is we would like to see some employment come from this for the local community.”
Despite concerns the employment could be outsourced Mr O’Cofaigh believes the jobs are suitable for local workers.
“I think construction jobs would probably come from the local economy. I think they would be suitable for local people and if not it would be good to see the company offer training for local workers so that they could take up those opportunities.
“The only thing is they are not probably not going to be very long-term jobs, but there is a lot of work with maintenance and that’s something we have got to think about. The North-west of Ireland has huge potential for wind and wave energy and we need to be training up people to maintain and upgrade these facilities.”
NTR Chief Executive Rosheen McGuckian added: “The Ora More wind project is a significant addition to our wind fleet in Northern Ireland, where we also have twelve single turbine projects under construction and in operation. RES has developed an outstanding project and we are very pleased to have the opportunity to acquire Ora More at this point. NTR intends to construct the project and operate it over its lifetime.”
The acquisition marks the first multi-turbine transaction in NTR’s strategy to build and operate circa 175 megawatt of wind over the coming two years across the Irish and UK wind markets.
THE chief executive of Liberty Insurance has told the Fermanagh Herald that ‘hundreds of jobs’ could be created by the transfer of operations of the business in Enniskillen to a third party.
While 270 jobs across Liberty in Ireland are to be cut, including 20 in Enniskillen, the company’s CEO is confident that the remaining jobs 210 will be safe when they are transferred to a third party, and said that several hundred could be created as a result of the move.
Last week, the company announced its intention to pull out of the British market resulting in big job losses in the South.
It hopes to find 20 voluntary redundancies in Enniskillen to facilitate the transfer of employees there to a third-party company, which would operate selling and servicing Liberty products and customers.
Liberty Insurance took over Quinn Insurance in 2011.
Tom McIlduff, chief executive of the company told the Fermanagh Herald that he was confident that the transferred jobs would be secure under a third party, which has yet to be announced.
Liberty Insurance will continue to own the building in Enniskillen, said to have capacity for over 800 staff.
“If we look at it from a local area in Enniskillen, our focus there was really to try to protect as many jobs as we could in that location and that’s why we’ve gone through a process to identify a series of providers, customer service providers, who can come in and take responsibility for the team that we have up there,” he said.
“There’s significant space for additional jobs and we needed to work with someone who would take that on, wanted to invest in Enniskillen and create hopefully hundreds of jobs in that location.”
Asked if, given that the jobs will be in the hands of a third party, he could guarantee their safety, he replied: “I think the key thing is what we’ve done is work with partners who we know are fully committed to Enniskillen.
“We put them through a thorough due diligence process to understand their commitment to the area; their commitment to bringing new jobs to the area. That was the key criteria in the people that we selected.”
Mr McIlduff admitted that the statement released to the media last week prompted a degree of certainty among staff, but sought to allay fears.
“I think this is an uncertain message at the moment and it’s difficult to talk about who the parties are because of where we are in the contractual negotiations but hopefully that uncertainty will be relatively short-lived and we’ll be able to bring them onside and let them introduce themselves. Once we get into that process then people will feel much more comfortable for their future in the new business that we transfer them to.”
On how the third party company will work, Mr McIlduff explained: “The products will still be Liberty, the employees will work for the third party but they’ll be selling our products and serving our customers under the Liberty banner.
LIBERTY INSURANCE is to cut 270 jobs across Ireland, the company has announced.
20 jobs are to go in Enniskillen, with plans for 210 staff to be ‘transferred’ to a third party company.
The company has said that it is due to market changes and a strategic review of its operating model, and that restructuring is to begin with a ‘voluntary led redundancy process’.
Liberty Insurance announces details of restructuring with the commencement of a voluntary led redundancy process
A spokesman said: “Liberty Insurance, the Irish subsidiary of the Liberty Mutual Insurance Group (LMI), today announced that it is reviewing options to transfer its contact centre in Enniskillen and 210 employees to a third-party company that specialises in customer management, in a move which could potentially lead to further growth opportunities for the centre. Details of these plans will be announced once a preferred partner is agreed and contracts finalised.”
Following this decision and a comprehensive review of its operating model, the company today informed employees that it is commencing a process that will seek 250 voluntary led redundancies in the Republic of Ireland and 20 in Northern Ireland. It is anticipated the redundancies will take effect over the next 18 months.Luis Bonell, President, Liberty International commented: “Liberty Mutual remains fully committed to building a successful business in Ireland. In recent years, we have purchased the remaining minority stake in Liberty Insurance, announced the acquisition of Hughes Insurance and have continued to invest and create jobs in our Liberty IT division in both Dublin and Belfast. In the coming years, we will utilize Liberty’s global expertise and resources to support our businesses in Ireland to enable their development into leading players in their respective markets.”
Tom McIlduff, Chief Executive, Liberty Insurance, said; “We have achieved a lot in our first few years in Ireland, having established a strong brand and grown our distribution network. However, the market is challenging and we have been loss making with an uncompetitive cost base. Withdrawing from the Great Britain market, focusing on Ireland and streamlining our operating model will enable us to strengthen our long term competitive position in Ireland in order to service our customers and brokers better.
“The plans we are announcing today reflect our commitment to retaining a contact centre at Enniskillen. We are examining options to transfer it to a third party operator which would preserve roles and potentially lead to future growth opportunities.”
Following today’s employee briefings, management, employees and the employee representative body will work together during a consultation period which will last for 30 days.
This announcement does not affect the operations of Hughes Insurance Services Limited in Northern Ireland or of other Liberty Mutual Insurance subsidiaries operating in Great Britain.
UP TO 90 jobs are expected to be created in Enniskillen over the course of the coming months.
The ongoing expansion at Erneside is to bring in new jobs with the opening of a store extension and coffee shop. And, new restaurant Little Wing, which held an open recruitment day in Enniskillen last week, has promised to create up to 20 jobs in the town centre.
While the roles are expected to be a mixture of part-time and full-time, it does nonetheless represent a move in a positive direction for the town jobs-wise.
From an Erneside perspective, Next have said that they expect to create up to 65 jobs. An adjoining coffee shop in the Next store has said that it will bring 15 new jobs.
Regarding Next, a spokesman said, that ‘everything is on schedule and due to open in November of this year’.
A spokesman for Ground Espresso Bars, which is investing £500k to open three stores across the North, said that the company is looking forward to opening its new store.
“We are also delighted to be expanding our partnership with Next Plc and these new concessions will see Ground feature in six of Next’s department stores before the end of 2015 with exciting plans in the pipeline to partner with Next on a considerable number of new sites as well.”
From a high street perspective, Little Wing Pizzeria is hoping to open before the summer. It held a recruitment day in the South West College on Wednesday past (May 27).
It has said that it hopes to create up to 20 jobs.
Luke Wolsey, managing director, told the Fermanagh Herald: “We were really encouraged by the turnout for our first recruitment fair and the number of enquiries we have received so far for positions at our new Little Wing restaurant in Enniskillen.
“Little Wing provides real and meaningful long term career opportunities for people that are passionate about hospitality and customer service.”
Up to 20 jobs are to be filled by a new restaurant opening in Enniskillen.
The restaurant Little Wing, which has outlets across the North, are to hold a recruitment open day today (Wednesday, May 27) at the South West College in Enniskillen.
The new restaurant is due to open on High Street, at the vacant premises beside ‘Savers’.
The restaurant hopes to create up to 20 jobs with the opening, and positions available include chef, managerial, waiting and kitchen staff.
The open day takes place in the Central Hall at the college from 11am to 4pm
THE Lisnaskea Spar store, which is located at the junction of Main Street and the Derrylin/New Bridge Road closed week, with the loss of 4 full-time and 10 part-time staff.
Its owners, Henderson Wholesale, said the business had been ‘generating a significant loss’ and was no longer economically viable.
At present, Lisnaskea post office operates in-store, inside the premises and it will continue to do so until it relocates next month to a new, in-store location at Costcutters at the far end of Main Street.
Last week, householders began receiving letters from Post Office confirming the new relocation.
Meanwhile, a spokesman from Henderson Wholesale yesterday confirmed the closure of the store as from Thursday last, 30th April. (The store was open the next day, Friday but, by that evening, all the shelves had been cleared).
The spokesman stated: “Henderson Wholesale acquired Spar Lisnaskea from its previous owners in October 2012, and since then the Henderson Wholesale team and our store staff have worked tirelessly to turn the business around from a loss-making position.
“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, and amid an extremely competitive local retail market, the business is generating a significant loss and it is no longer economically viable to continue trading.
“The recent announcement that the Post Office has decided to leave the store in the near future is the latest blow and, therefore, it is with very deep regret that we have taken the difficult decision to cease trading from Thursday 30th April.
“This will unfortunately result in job losses for four full- and 10 part-time staff.”
Jean McVitty, the press officer for Lisnaskea Chamber of Commerce said the closure wasn’t even mentioned at last week’s monthly meeting, held prior to closure.
“It is sad to see any business closing down but the business had diminished and I suppose it was on the cards anyway.” But, she welcomed the relocation of the Post Office to the Costcutters store.
“The chamber and the community in Lisnaskea disagreed with the post office going to Spar in the first place. There was no proper parking and it was near a mini-roundabout that was used by very heavy and very long vehicles and, at times, it was dangerous.
“At least, now, it will be beside a pedestrian crossing, with parking for disabled users and much more central for the community.” There are 24 independently owned and 3 franchised Spar stores in Fermanagh.
By Ryan Smith
LOCAL business owners are continuing to come to terms with a hike in rates that has seen bills for businesses here rising by thousands.
Land and Property Services has re-valued non-domestic properties across the North meaning that ‘new values’ were used to calculate rates bills from April 1.
This means that ratepayers will be paying based on their 2013 rental value – as opposed to the last evaluation which was back in 2001.
And while some parts of the county have benefited – including in Enniskillen town centre – others have suffered heavily from the re-evaluation.
Declan McCabe of McCabe’s Supervalu in Newtownbutler said his business is facing an increase of over 50%.
“Like any man in business if he gets a 50 or 60% increase in any overhead he has to look at it and see where can we save this money going forward,” he said.
“I don’t think they’re thinking at all. We will have to look at our wage hours. There’s no way I can increase a 50% increase on our second biggest overhead.”
Asked how he will absorb the rates hike, Mr McCabe said: “The only way to stay profitable is to look at cutting your wage hours. We’re going to have to sit down and look at where we can save on this. I’ve been talking to other shopkeepers here and they’re looking at similar. They can’t see the logic or the sense in it at all.”
Similarly, in Enniskillen, Scott Robinson of Craigville Garden Centre and Coffee Shop is also facing a 50% rise.
“We’re just on the edge of town: We don’t even get Christmas lights or our own bins emptied,” he said, “It doesn’t make sense. This town is empty enough without hurting small businesses.
“My ground hasn’t changed – we’re open ground. It’s not as if we’ve build a two storey house on it.”
Like Supervalu in Newtownbutler, Mr Robinson said that the impact will be on staff.
“Any chance we had of taking on extra members of staff this year are gone. Really there’s times in our business where when the weather is good you could do with 50 staff. But we’re just going to have to cope again.”
EIGHT TEACHING jobs are to be lost at Devenish College in Enniskillen, the Fermanagh Herald can reveal.
The school, which was part of a merger with Lisnaskea High School in 2013, has been forced to make cuts following what is known as the ‘collective agreement’ or the school’s ‘reorganisation agreement’.
The chairman of the board of governors of Devenish College, Alex Baird, revealed to the Fermanagh Herald today (Wednesday), that the cost-cutting measures meant the loss of ‘essentially eight individuals’ on the teaching staff.
He said: “Following the merger of Lisnaskea High School and Devenish College, what was called the collective agreement, the school’s reorganisation agreement, was brought into force – which is the norm after any merger of schools.
“That protects all teachers jobs for two years, but then there is a requirement to rationalise and look at costs and live within budget.
“And unfortunately as a result of that, we have to reduce our teaching compliment from 40.2 full time equivalent down to 32. So it’s an eight point two reduction in jobs. It’s 8.2 jobs.”
Mr Baird said that the board will be working to ensure that compulsory redundancies are kept to a minimum.
“We will do everything in our power to ensure either voluntary or transferred redundancies are achieved. We don’t want to see anyone go through a compulsory redundancy.
“There’s the transferred redundancy situation where other schools have people retiring and they notify the board – and people who are being made redundant can apply for a transferred redundancy.”
The Fermanagh Herald has contacted the Western Education and Library Board for a response.
THE MESSAGE FROM the anti-fracking conference last Friday was clear – fracking will be blocked, should attempts be made to introduce it in Fermanagh.
Organised by Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson, the event was held on Friday in the Lough Erne Resort, and was chaired by Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew.
Speakers on the day included, Gary McFarlane, director of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Dr Brenna O’Roarty a member of Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network, Professor Tony Ingraffea from Cornell University and keynote speaker Andy Gheorghiu, the author of the Friends of the Earth Fracking Frenzy report.
Speaking at the conference, Martina Anderson gave her ‘absolute guarantee’ Sinn Fein will block fracking here. To rapturous applause she stated the party would use its voting strength in the executive to block it and not change Fermanagh from “forty shades of green to fifty shades of grey”.
In her address Dr Brenna O’Roarty, a member of Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network and economic analyst, poured cold water on claims fracking would bring economic benefits to the county.
In her report weighing up the economic benefits she claimed fracking would not bring 600 jobs rather “a maximum of maybe 10 jobs long-term” and said initial figures the process could bring £6.7billion were ‘really shaky’.
She highlighted the impact on roads and claimed that due to increased traffic, it reduces life-cycle of roads by 75%.
She also stressed her concern the process would have on Fermanagh’s two key industries; agriculture and tourism.
Speaking after the conference Michelle Gildernew was delighted with the success of the conference.
“We had a range of different experts in the fields of the environment, economics, tourism, agriculture, health and hydrology, many of whom were Fermanagh natives.
“Ms Gildernew continued: “Fracking is not the answer to the needs of Fermanagh, or anywhere in Ireland for that matter. A basic human right is the right to clean water, clear air and a clean environment to raise our children in.”
She added: “The outcome of the discussions today has strengthened our opposition to any form of fracking and we will continue to work with the community to ensure their opposition to fracking is listened to. If we are all active together, we can change anything.”
By Gareth McKeown
AS PART of public spending cuts Enniskillen Courthouse along with seven other courthouses in the North could face the chop.
It is thought that up to 20 people’s jobs could be affected.
Justice Minister David Ford has proposed the closures as a way to save money in his department’s budget, cut by £75m.
If agreed it would mean local solicitors, their clients and members of the public being forced to travel to Dungannon or Omagh.
With the NI Courts and Tribunals Service facing a cut of almost 11% , or £2.3 million, Mr Ford is proposing to close the eight courthouses in a move he claims would save almost £1.5m a year, £300,000 of which would be saved by the Prison Service on reduced transport costs for taking prisoners to court.
Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Tom Elliott has expressed his concern at the prospect of the Courthouse in Enniskillen closing.
“There seems to be a general trend in of the loss of public service jobs in Fermanagh. I would question the Justice Minister’s thinking behind this, as this further planned loss of jobs will severely affect the local economy and the obvious fact of more Civil Servants in Fermanagh are going to be without jobs.”
“There used to be a number of courthouses in County Fermanagh, and now the plan is to close the Enniskillen Courthouse, the only one left in the county. I will be questioning the Justice Minister on his decision, and will be working hard to try and ensure as many public service jobs as kept, as a direct result of this planned closure.”
Local Sinn Fein MLA Sean Lynch said he was “simply stunned” by Mr Ford’s proposal.
“With the closure of the courthouse in Enniskillen many people will be forced to travel many miles in order to deal with issues addressed through the courts.
“Courts deal with many issues apart from the criminal justice system so this closure will have a huge impact upon those who have to attend a court.
“The Minister has always claimed that the core aim of his Department is a faster, fairer justice system, which is reflected in the Bill coming to the Assembly later this year yet the closure of Enniskillen Courthouse will only result in backlogs in the justice system; loss in confidence in the justice system; and a decrease in access to justice.”
He added: “It may save the department £92,439 per year but the safety of our community is priceless and it depends on an effective justice system. Not to mention the loss of jobs that will come as a result of this closure, as we see yet another vital service leave Fermanagh.