The directors of ZED Candy should re consider the decision to transfer manufacturing operation of Oatfield sweets to the UK. The workers in Oatfield have been aware of the threat to their jobs for some time now. 30 redundancies is a major blow to the locality.
It is regrettable that the owners of Oatfield did not invest in new plant equipment and let the factory stagnate without investment. It is also incumbent on the state agencies in Donegal to look at what has happened here. The brand name is synonomous with Letterkenny and Donegal for over 80 years.
I will be asking from the directors of Zed Candy to give a committment that the Oatfield workers be treated fairly and the company remain in Donegal. The County Development Board must insist that a brand name such as Oatfield be protected and remain in Donegal with a view to developing it. There is a tradition there that must be protected and not taken out of the area.
I have written to the County Manager, Seamus Neely, to consider the implication for an indigenous company that is controlled from the outside. We must develop indigenous industry and use the experience to promote their products. The owners could have moved to a purpose built facility in the area but they seems to have no interest in developing the sweets in Donegal.
Oatfield is perceived as something of an industry leader, partly because of its approach to investing in equipment. It was among the first manufacturers worldwide to introduce centres to boiled sweets in the mid-1960s, and its introduction of pre-packing equipment in 1968 is heralded as kick-starting the pre packing tradition in Ireland.