Job losses for Newry in Target Express collapse

September 4, 2012

By Christine Keighery

Beleaguered haulage firm, Target Express, last week announced that court appointed liquidators in the Republic of Ireland had placed the company into administration, causing up to 150 job losses in their Newry depot. Target Express’s financial difficulties surfaced back in April this year and, last week, the Inland Revenue in the Republic froze the company bank accounts over a debt of €500,000 (£396,000).

The Newry employees will be among over 450 people North and South of the border affected by the collapse of one of the largest private haulage firms in Ireland, with a huge network of depots throughout the country.

Seamus McBrien, the Fermanagh businessman who owns the company blamed tax authorities in the Republic who, he said, “forced the collapse” of Target Express. Mr McBrien said he was “terribly, terribly sorry” for all his staff but laid the blame with revenue commissioners who, he said, had ordered banks to freeze accounts so staff had stopped getting paid.  “I have put that on the record and do not intend to add to it. Again I want to thank our staff.”

Local political representatives have been united in their reaction to the news, expressing shock and disappointment at the imminent job losses in the area.

SDLP Newry and Armagh MLA Dominic Bradley expressed his regret at the announcement and also questioned the role of the Revenue Commission and the apparent conditions placed on the company.

Mr Bradley said,

“It is deeply regrettable that Target Express has ceased to trade with the loss of jobs in Newry.

“The SDLP will be questioning why the Revenue Commissioners weren’t willing to negotiate a settlement to keep the firm running and thus saving jobs in our community.

“Losing a firm like this is bad for our local and national economy and, as the largest privately owned haulage company, it is extremely bad for the haulage business and is indicative of how haulage firms are finding it hard to trade currently, given the continuing high cost of fuel.”

Sympathising with the local people who lost their jobs, Bradley added, “Our hearts go out to those workers who are feeling the brunt of this sorry situation, and their families.”

Newry Armagh MP, Conor Murphy, described the collapse of Target Express as “a major blow to the local economy” and said his thoughts were with workers and their families.

Mr Murphy said,

“Across the North Target employs almost 150 people, these job losses may well have a greater impact as ancillary jobs could be in danger. According to the Irish Road Haulage Association 5000 jobs have been lost in the industry on the island in the last two years.”

Murphy continued, “With this in mind, it is even more distressing for staff of Seamus McBrien’s company, the largest privately owned haulage company in the 26 Counties.”

The Sinn Fein MP assured workers affected by the closure that the local Sinn Fein office was open for advice and pledged to help in any way he could.

“Many of these people will have mortgages and direct debits affected and I would ask the local banks in particular to be sympathetic to their plight,” he added.