Bishop Gavin calls for state support for Novartis employees

Church of Our Lady and St. John, Carrigaline.

Following the announcement on Wednesday by Novartis, which is based at Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, Bishop Fintan Gavin made a pastoral visit to the neighbouring Parish of Carrigaline today, Saturday, and celebrated the parish’s Vigil Mass at 6pm in the Church of Our Lady and Saint John, Carrigaline.  Bishop Gavin expressed support for those affected by this week’s announcement. 

“My heart sank when like so many others I turned on the radio on Wednesday morning as details of the 320 job losses at Novartis, Ringaskiddy, emerged.  It is a devastating blow to the employees, their families and to the wider community.

The fact that the announcement came suddenly and without warning to staff and to their families creates a huge insecurity and uncertainty for the many people employed in Novartis and others employed in the wider pharmaceutical industry, their families and local communities such as here in Carrigaline.

Every effort needs to be made by government and the IDA to minimise the job losses, to support those who will lose their jobs, and to seek alternative employers to invest in the site.  On Tuesday we celebrated the feast of Saint John Paul II, who highlighted the importance of a person’s dignity as a worker and the centrality of work to the human person as an opportunity to fulfil our God-given gifts.

Carrigaline is just one of the communities that is now heavily dependent on the pharmaceutical sector and this announcement by Novartis highlights the danger of our dependence on global companies.

As a nation of people, we have developed an enormous reliance on the pharmaceutical sector. These industries have provided and continue to provide a valued livelihood to thousands of our people.  However, at the same time, we can easily forget that these industries and their parent companies are global businesses: researching, producing and competing in a global market.  As a nation, we need to ensure that our reliance on foreign direct investment does not lure us into a false sense of security.  We need to invest more in our local indigenous industries and innovations.

News like we received out-of-the-blue from Novartis reminds us that, as local communities, we need to strengthen our ties with neighbours and friends, always aware of who is beside us and of their needs.  As parishes, we have a strong tradition of supporting people and families in times of worry and need.  We will continue to do this.

I visit Carrigaline this evening as just one community affected by these job losses. Carrigaline has grown rapidly in recent years and has established and nurtured a strong sense of community.  It is also a very strong parish-faith community, which has successfully developed to embrace so many new people and families.  Even when everything may be subject to unexpected changes, the parish to which we belong is always an anchor.

This church we pray in today is dedicated to Our Lady and Saint John who both kneel at the foot of the Cross of Jesus.  That scene is beautifully depicted on the stained-glass window over the main entrance.  It is at the foot of the Cross that the Christian community is formed.  In these times of uncertainty for people, we all respond as a Christian family with prayerful support, with hope and with practical expressions of Christian solidarity.”