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Westmeath Topic - 15 February 2018

12 TOPIC •

12 TOPIC • 15 February, 2018 NEWS Humphreys “bowled over” by Mullingar industry BY: CLAIRE CORRIGAN Minister Heather Humphrey, newly appointed Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, said she was completely “bowled over” by the level of expertise and world class technological skills displayed in Mullingar on Thursday last. The Monaghan native was invited to visit three factories in Mullingar Business Park by local deputy Peter Burke, TEG, Robotics and Drives and Trend Technology. Enda O’Reilly, Quality Engineer, shows Minister Heather Humphreys an automotive component manufactured at Trend Technologies, while Peter Burke TD and Tom Kelly look on. All three facilities are within a stone’s throw of each other, with the Minister first meeting management team John Hunt and Tommy Kelly at TEG, where they manufacture high end parts for aircraft, pharmaceuticals and biopharma. The Minister then sat down with staff to discuss their plans for Brexit and heard the extensive actions already taken by TEG to stay ahead of the curve in their industry and diversify their market. The Minister remarked: “TEG is the poster child for how businesses should approach Brexit. While we are still uncertain of what the exact arrangements will be when Britain leaves the EU, there are steps that my Department are advising businesses to take and management here are already ahead after gaining further contracts for new services and markets, and carrying out in-depth research”. The Minister then visited Robotics and Drives and was given a tour of the impressive facility by Ken McNevin, co-owner and founder of the company. The Minister observed robots programmed by the company at work, and heard how Robotics and Drives have programmed robots for many multinational and local companies, who now have increased their productivity hugely as a result. The final visit was to Trend Technology, who work with Robotics and Drives and indeed use some of their designs in order to manufacture their highly specific moulds and parts which they export globally. The site, which is Trend’s European Headquarters, has been in operation for 37 years and has seen huge change and evolution. Speaking after the visit, the Minister said she would leave Mullingar extremely impressed: “It is clear from visiting these sites and listening to management, that we have global leaders in robotics and technology here in Mullingar. It is fantastic to see such entrepreneurship and vision and I hope to work with my Department and with EI to further develop these businesses and give them all the support they need. I announced €2 million for IMR in Mullingar already in December, a company who is linked in with these manufacturers, and this fund is reopening again shortly. I have arranged for my officials to discuss applications for some of the companies today. “I thank Deputy Burke for inviting me today and opening my eyes to the centre of excellence Mullingar is for robotics. This is my fourth trip to Westmeath in the past six months and I will definitely come back. In the meantime, my officials will stay linked up with these companies.” Peter Burke also thanked the companies for showing the Minister their factories and their skill sets: “I have visited these sites on various occasions since I was elected and I was keen for the Minister to come to Mullingar again to see another side to the town that people often do not see. While I am pushing for more investment from the IDA to attract more industry, we need to recognise the positives on our doorsteps also, and these companies really are world leaders in their field. Mullingar is a centre of excellence for robotics and I am hopeful that more companies will follow the example of TEG, Robotics and Drives and Trend and utilise the skillsets and facilities we have here to further the industry.” The Minister with Ken McNevin and Deputy Peter Burke. The unavoidable topic of the impact of Brexit on industry in Westmeath and indeed, the whole country, inevitably raised it’s head during Minister Heather Humphrey’s visit to TEG, a specialist engineering services company providing tailor-made solutions to the aviation, biopharmaceutical and pharmaceutical industries. Headquartered in Mullingar, the company supports clients in over 30 countries. Ms. Humphreys said the Government were satisfied in terms of a political agreement for stage one of negotiations however she acknowledged that the second stage of Brexit talks could prove challenging. Earlier in the week Ms. Humphreys launched Enterprise Ireland’s Northern Powerhouse report which highlights the strong business opportunities in construction, life sciences, digital technology and cleantech for Irish companies in the north of England, an area which is growing faster than any other part of the UK, “While we are diversifying our markets in terms of Brexit, we still have to have a good strong working relationship (with the UK). The Powerhouse area is the northern part of the UK and it’s an area that the UK government has decided to regenerate in terms of economic activity so they are investing in cities and communities right across that Minister Humphries pictured with management at TEG. area. 14.9 million people live there so our focus is on how can we do more business there. So while we have to diversify, there is still strong links between ourselves and the UK.” Managing Director at TEG, John Hunt said that Brexit has undoubtedly caused significant instability within the industry, “We see in our industry, the biopharmaceutical and aerospace industry, it’s a long-term industry and the uncertainty is causing some problems with some customers. One of our biggest customers in the UK called Aesica in Kent, has just had to let go 50 people because of Brexit. We all have to just try and reduce the uncertainty as much as possible.” Minister Humphries replied that Enterprise Ireland has a number of supports in place to help businesses prepare for Brexit, “People have to get ready for it and identify the risks and mitigate. We want to diversify the markets, invest in innovation Cllr Frank McDermott, Ken McNevin, Minister Heather Humphreys, Peter Burke TD and Cllr Emily Wallace. Minister Heather Humphreys talks about challenges of Brexit Minister Heather Humphreys with Dónal Lawlor, Trend Technologies Managing Director, holding the company’s 2017 Plastics Industry Award. (L-R): Peter Burke TD, Marie O’Toole, Laura Mannion, Cllr. Frank McDermott, Minister Heather Humphreys, Brendan Murtagh, Dónal Lawlor, Justin Wallace, Robert Troy TD, Mark Atterbury, Cllr. Emily Wallace, Theresa O’Connell, Tom Kelly and Gráinne Brennan. and remain competitive. That’s what any business needs to do on an ongoing basis anyway.” Tommy Kelly, founding director of TEG said that Aesica lost business to German sites as well as a site in Belgium, “Unless we are already in those sites, we end up losing business so it’s unlikely we will be able to sustain the two people we have working in the UK going forward unless the decrease that we are seeing in business, stops and is reversed in UK. Our customers in the UK are losing business so we are in turn, suffering. We have to protect jobs here and invest in people selling in other markets which is an immediate challenge for us and something we would like support with if there is any available from Government. That said, we have the risk well spread so Brexit is not going to effect us as much as others who are putting a lot of their exports into the UK but it’s a fair shock to the system.” Mark Atterbury from Enterprise Ireland, Easter and Midlands Regional Office said Enterprise Ireland has established a new Market Discovery Fund which aims to incentivise companies to research viable and sustainable market entry strategies in new geographic markets, "That would be worth having a look at. The focus is entering a new international market . I think you have good diversification in your market.” Mr. Hunt revealed that 30% of the company’s business comes from the US with the UK market accounting for over 20%. He added that due to uncertainty arising from Brexit, companies “are postponing decisions.” Mr. Kelly agreed saying that due to the volatility of the sterling in recent times, one project had dropped in value by a staggering €90,000. In more positive news, Mr Hunt revealed that TEG had recently been approved for designing and repairing aircraft parts. L-R: Trend Technologies Managing Director, Dónal Lawlor, Minister Heather Humphreys and Peter Burke TD

TOPIC • 15 February, 2018 NEWS 13 Couldn’t get down to the Johnny McEvoy Show in the Greville Arms Hotel on Friday evening last, but the lucky ones who managed it say Johnny is as good as ever, and put on a great show, singing for more than two hours... no short cuts, just the real deal....well done to him, and that reminds me another genuine ‘great’, Christy Moore, is up in the Mullingar Park Hotel this coming Friday night, 16 February. don’t know if there’s tickets left, but if so, get yours now.... by a strange coincidence, which hasn’t happened since 1945 (seventy three years ago), Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent) and St. Valentine’s Day coincide this year...so if you’re off chocolate for Lent, you’ll have to wait until Easter Sunday to enjoy that special box... but if you’re serious about your fast, sure it’ll be worth the wait.... but I just wonder how many people do give up something for Lent these times? ... one thing for sure, I can’t make head or tail of the weather these times..... one day its lashing rain, the next, freezing cold and then its with Br. Frank & Br. Fergus “I believe the IDA has a new Mullingar manager now?” milder for a day, and then back around again... John tells me its the jet stream gone crazy, because the sun is so “quiet”... but I wish it would make up its mind, and I’m led to believe its confusing all the birds planning to build nests...Sad to hear that Mullingar, the Westmeath capital, won’t have any St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year....but the town still suffers from the same old problems...nobody cares...which is why the Government will be announcing on Friday of this week, that Athlone is going to be officially declared the ‘Capital of the Midlands”... and that’s no joke... Minister Kevin “Boxer Moran has made sure of it, and claims the Government didn’t intend it to happen, but he made sure it did...you have to hand it to Athlone people, whether they are FF or FG or whatever party, they always put Athlone first... signs on it, they’ll have a big parade on St. Patrick’s Day, just like they have the Regional College, which was intended for Mullingar in the Sixties, but was “But can he do anything to get a factory for us?” 464 On Monday of this week, 12 February, 2018, it was 464 years since the execution by beheading at the Tower of London of Lady Jane Grey, who was charged with treason. She had claimed the throne of England for nine days. 100 On Monday of this week, all flights at London City Airport were cancelled after the discovery of an unexploded Second World War bomb. Up to 100 flights were affected as the Metropolitan Police set up a 214-metre (700ft) exclusion zone on Sunday evening to ensure the device could be dealt with safely. People living inside the zone were evacuated from their homes overnight and road cordons were put in place and “diverted” and now has 5,400 students or so...and then there’s all the IDA factories providing thousands of jobs, bypassing Mullingar and going to Athlone the same way, like the Army Barracks.....but people and politicians in the capital town remain asleep, it seems...so Mullingar people can’t blame Athlone....only themselves....and that reminds, me to compliment the people of Loughnavalley, particularly Alan, Mark and Julian, for their plan for a feasibility study for the future of Loughnavalley and area...they’re collecting local views, and they see a future role in nearby major tourism projects, the Old Rail Cycleway, Centre Parcs and of course, their own Hill of Uisneach, as the big attractions...you have to admire a bit of ‘get up and go’ in people....by the way, disappointing to learn that the proposed whiskey vault project for Moyvore was turned down by the Council last week...it would have provided jobs and surely been good for the greater Mullingar area?....perhaps the Mullingar army barracks might be an alternative location as we surely don’t want to lose some train services were also affected. 85 Hard to believe, Yoko Ono, the widow of ex-Beatle John Lennon, will be 85 years of age on Sunday of this week 18 February, born in 1933. 34 Gerry Adams has stepped down as Sinn Féin President after 34 years. His successor, Mary Lou McDonald, elected unopposed, gave her first address as president at the party’s special ard fheis on Saturday last. 19 The third Monday in February is celebrated in the United States as Presidents’ Day. This year, the holiday held in honour of George Washington, the first President of the United States, who was CAST A COLD EYE.... While this “student” didn’t mind casting a cold eye on his book, at the gates of Colaiste Mhuire, Mullingar, thanks to the snowfalls of the past week in the town, the remainder of the schoolgoing students gave indications of feeling the effects of the colder weather, which appears likely to extend into the days ahead.... this opportunity to Longford, as is being suggested...before I forget, time for a few birthdays, and on this Wednesday, 14 February , a young Multyfarnham woman, Shona Gilhooley, from Donore Road, in Multyfarnham, will have a Valentine’s birthday to celebrate... then, on Friday, 16 February Ruth Judge from Coralstown, Mullingar has a birthday celebration and family and friends send her good wishes... this coming Saturday, 17 February, Aaron Fahy from Rathmolyon will be celebrating his birthday... so happy birthday Aaron, The Week In Numbers born on February 22, 1732 will take place on Monday, 19 February. Now widely known as Presidents’ Day it is often an occasion to honour the incumbent president and all persons who have served as president, not just George Washington 16 Friday of this week, 16 February marks the Chinese New Year. Unlike our New Year celebrations, Chinese New Year is never on a fixed date. According to the Chinese 12-year animal zodiac cycle, the Chinese year beginning in 2018 is the Year of the Dog. 14 This Wednesday, 14 February is of course, Valentine’s Day! It is also Ash Wednesday, marking the start of Lent. your brother Nathan and Mum and Dad and all the family send best wishes.... and also on Sunday, 17 February, Katie Cribbin from Greatdown, The Downs has her birthday, and best wishes to Katie from her parents, her older brother James and all the family; and also to Rebecca Croash from Greenhills, Killucan, who has a birthday on 17 February...and the same day, Nicola O’Keefe from Lakepoint, Mullingar is sent birthday wishes...On Sunday, 18 February, Sarah Nea from Killucan, will celebrate her fourteenth birthday, and she is sent love and good wishes by her Dad and Mum and her sister, Ava....on Monday, 19 February, Dale Conlon from Millmount, Mullingar has his birthday and the same day, Dara Browne will have his birthday, and best wishes to him... On Tuesday, 20 February, Sarah Wiley from Mullingar Road, Kinnegad will celebrate a birthday, and best wishes go to Sarah also, from family and friends...there seems to be an epidemic of cards and bingo and nights these times... and last week, in Castlepollard, the lotto jackpot was €15,000 and it wasn’t won... and similarly, the big €9,400 jackpot in Rathowen... and the bingo in Collinstown is on Tuesday nights, and in The Downs in Friday nights... meanwhile, there’s 25s out in Cullion on Monday nights, in Rosemount on Tuesday nights, and more cards in Gainstown School on Wednesday nights.... and various others too, I believe, but those are the only ones mentioned to Packy... I believe Fr. Dalton’s have their annual Dinner Dance in The Rustic Inn this Friday night, 16 February at 8pm... Mullingar Town Band have an Information Meeting, about the Band Hall’s refurbishment this Friday, 16 February at 7.30 in the Band Hall, and all the Band’s friends are invited...a big congrats to Mullingar’s Patricia Gibney who has sold an amazing 900,000 copies of her three first book...what a remarkable achievement....on another note, well done to the winners of this week’s Action Draw, where the top prize of €1,000 was scooped by Willie Ahearn, c/o Joe Walsh...the second prize of €400 went to Mary Daly, c/o Joe Walsh, while the third prize of €200 was won by Assumpta Walsh, c/o Patricia Bardon...the remaining €200 prizes went to Barry Rowan, c/o Anthony Gavin, and ‘Little and Large’, c/o Sean Matthews... Interesting to see local connections on national television over the weekend...congrats and best wishes to James Hennessy and Siobhan Hiney who got engaged on The Late Late Show on Friday evening....the Kilmartin family from Mullingar were on the Ray D’Arcy Show on Saturday and scooped a nice prize for their efforts...Rita and Mick were celebrating their 30th Wedding Anniversary and scooped €600 for their rendition of Ireland’s Call...well done folks... by the way I hope you all had your pancakes on Tuesday?.... ... from your friend, Packy Mac Killucan to Kinnegad Road should be a Regional Road, say councillors Cllr. John Shaw, supported by a number of other Mullingar Municipal District memberes, including Cllrs. Mick Dollard, Emily Wallace, Frank McDermott and Una D’Arcy want the County Council to ask the Minister and Department for Transport to reclassify the road between Killucan and Kinnegad as a regional road, because it is so much used, and carrying so much traffic. However, the reply given at last week’s Council meeting in Mullingar indicates that the official attitude is to throw ‘cold water’ on the suggestion by Cllr. Shaw, with a range of reasons advanced as to why it would be difficult to have its status changed. The reply to Cllr. Shaw’s request at last week’s meeting stated that if the Council wanted the road reclassified, a detailed report, giving its condition, the geometric layout, and details of works required would be among the information needed. The Council reply also suggested that such a reclassification would not automatically mean more investment in improving or maintaining the road and it also pointed out that “more restrictive planning policies and increased sight distance requirements” would apply to any development proposals for the route. The latter appears to suggest that if reclassified, the road would then be given higher status in terms of having better sight distances, etc. would come into force. Cllr. Shaw indicated that he wanted the road to be reclassified, because it was so busy.

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