Arrabawn “has a moral obligation” to the people of Kilconnell, Co. Galway, after the decision to cease processing at its plant there, a local TD has said.

Michael Fitzmaurice said that the decision by the co-op will see the loss of a “substantial number of jobs over the coming months”.

“This is a catastrophic blow to Kilconnell and communities across east Galway. The devastating economic and social impact on a rural community cannot be understated,” the Roscommon-Galway TD said.

“The sale of the liquid milk book by Arrabawn to Aurivo will no doubt shock dairy farmers who have invested in their enterprises to ensure that the Kilconnell plant was provided with sufficient milk supplies all year.”

According to Fitzmaurice, Arrabawn indicated to him that it is open to exploring alternative opportunities for the site with public representatives. However, the TD said “at the moment there doesn’t seem to be a plan”.

“The focus of all elected representatives should now be on exploring alternative uses for the site and finding alternative enterprises to replace the jobs that will be lost over the next six to nine months,” he argued.

Arrabawn Co-op employs 110 people in this area of its business. Approximately half of these will transfer with the business, with redeployment opportunities also being made available to others across the wider business, Arrabawn said.

Fitzmaurice said he would make representations to the Industrial Development Agency (IDA), Enterprise Ireland, and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar “to make sure there is joined-up thinking across agencies to ensure no opportunity to bring jobs to east Galway is missed”.

“There is no magic wand when it comes to job creation in rural Ireland, but with hard work and sincere commitment from government, there are opportunities which can and must be seized,” the independent TD remarked.

While both Fitzmaurice and his constituency colleague Denis Naughten have expressed their concerns over Arrabawn’s move, the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) has welcomed the decision of the co-op to sell its liquid milk sales book to Aurivo.

ICOS president James O’Donnell said: “I commend the courage of both co-ops in agreeing this historic and strategic move to rationalise the domestic liquid milk business.

“I believe this move will prove to be a positive one for liquid milk suppliers across the region and nationally. It will allow Aurivo to achieve even greater scale and reach in their consumer food business.

“It will also allow Arrabawn the opportunity to focus on its core manufacturing business, which has been transformed in recent times, particularly with the recent investment of €30 million in the Nenagh plant,” O’Donnell added.