Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare North James Lawless has criticised Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor for taking a hands off approach to dealing with the 500 job losses announced yesterday by HP in Leixlip.

Deputy Lawless made the comments after securing a special Dáil debate on the issue.

“The 500 job losses announced by HP are a major setback for Kildare. My thoughts are with the workers and their families during this difficult time. HP is one of the key employers in Kildare and has been operating in the county since 1996. These job losses will undoubtedly have a knock on impact on the local economy right across Kildare,” said Deputy Lawless.

“I raised this matter with Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor in the Dáil yesterday after meeting with HP workers on site in Lexlip. I outlined the need for the Government to commit to doing everything necessary to support workers during this difficult time. In particular the Government needs put in place supports to assist workers in finding alternative employment, and to provide training and re-skilling assistance where needed.

“I also pressed the need for a mitigation plan to be put in place in cases where it is feared job losses could arise due to multinational companies entering a re-structuring process. HP announced as far back as November 2015 that it was looking to cut 3,000 – 4,000 jobs from its global workforce. Many feared at the time that Ireland could be impacted by this decision. Meg Whitman, CEO of HP, also recently warned at the Davos International Summit that automation could result in people being put out of work. However it seems Minister Mitchell O’Connor paid little attention to these comments.

“It’s clear that the Government took a hands off approach to dealing with the problem at a time when it should have been putting in place a plan to retain these jobs. This is disappointing and points to a Government which is incapable of dealing with the threats facing our economy.

“I’m greatly disappointed with the reply that I received from Minister Mitchell O’Connor. The Minister could not confirm that she engaged with HP management with the aim of preventing these job losses. She also could not set out what supports the State would be putting in place to assist those affected by these job losses.

“The Minister seems uninterested in dealing with anything in her brief that does not include attending photo opportunities for job announcements. The time for photo opportunities is gone. It is time for action.”