THE 400 new jobs for Limerick which Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said are â€œat the final stages of negotiationâ€ would â€“ if confirmed â€“ be call centre positions based at the EMF 3 building in Raheen. The plant was vacated by Dell when it closed its manufacturing division in 2009.
Mr Noonan caused a stir when, as the guest speaker at the Chamber of Commerce business awards on Friday night, he announced that the jobs were on the way. When questioned by the reporters after his speech, he declined to provide any further information, other than saying: â€œI can tell you it is true ... and it will be a big boost for Limerickâ€.
This week, when no further news about the jobs emerged, Fianna Fail TD for Limerick City Willie Oâ€™Dea expressed concern about what he described as â€œthe Ministerâ€™s refusal to reveal what kind of employment opportunities will ariseâ€. While welcoming the announcement, the former Minister for Defence also said he was â€œhoping the Minister isnâ€™t playing games with usâ€ and added: â€œIf he wants to hold back on the announcement to protect privacy then that is fine but if he is speaking before this is official then that is very careless.â€
Reliable sources told the Limerick Leader this Wednesday afternoon that while the process is very much on track, the jobs are not yet signed and sealed. However, it is believed that Mr Noonan would not have surprised hundreds of local business leaders by making the announcement out of the blue during his speech if he were not certain that they were going to be delivered.
While the identity of the new employer lined up for the the giant and empty building at the Raheen industrial estate remains under wraps, the Leader can confirm that it is not a multinational company and that the new venture is an indigenous one, with a major requirement for front-office and call-centre operations.
Intense negotiations to bring the jobs to Limerick have been ongoing for several weeks but it is understood there has been competition from other Irish locations and that a bidding process is involved.
If confirmed, the new jobs would be another huge boost for the region, following on from the confirmation of another 400 positions at Northern Trust, the financial services company based at Plassey.
In his speech last Friday, Mr Noonan said that Limerick could make huge strides in attracting companies in the financial services sector because the cost base here is considerably lower than in Dublin. He also referred to â€œthe availability of bright people out in LIT, and the universityâ€ and on challenging Dublin for jobs in this growing area he said: â€œWe will beat them, and on the lifestyle, we will beat them at that too.â€
However, the new operation planned for Raheen is not part of the financial services or IT industries. It would offer frontline services to a nationwide customer base.