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Almac admits new operation in Dundalk is because of Brexit

Almac says its headquarters will "always, always, be in Craigavon

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CRAIGAVON pharmaceutical firm Almac has admitted that its decision to open a factory in Dundalk was as a direct result of the UK’s vote to leave Europe.

Giving evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, the company said that it may move operations to the Republic of Ireland from Northern Ireland.

The group, established nearly two decades ago by the late Sir Allen McClay, said border checks could impact on its ability to be competitive and that potentially having to certify a product in Northern Ireland and then again certify it in the Republic of Ireland was a concern. 

Colin Hayburn, executive director of Almac Group and Graeme McBurney, president and managing director of Almac Pharma Services told the committee that the majority of their trades were with Ireland rather than the UK. Certification to sell its products to Ireland could add an extra £480 to each deal.  

The decision to open in Dundalk was made just weeks after the Brexit vote.

Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan said that Almac had been waiting for weeks to get a meeting with Secretary of State James Brokenshire. 

"There are two main concerns here," said Mr Kinahan. "One is that Almac could not find any one in government to talk to [with regards its Brexit concerns].  And two that it has bought somewhere in Dundalk because of the uncertainty surrounding the UK's exit for Europe." 

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee also took evidence from Stephen Kelly, Manufacturing NI Chief Executive. Mr Kinahan said that Mr Kelly told the committee that with the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive they were not getting the chance to get their point across to the Brexit Department at Westminster. 

SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell added: "We don't have the structures or strategies in place to deal with Brexit and that is what concerns me greatly... In Northern Ireland we've had lots of conversations but no meaningful structures put in place. We are depending on the British Government." 

Last month, Almac stressed its commitment to retaining its headquarters in Craigavon when it announced that it would create 100 jobs in Dundalk.

A spokesman for Almac insisted: "Our base will always, always, be in Craigavon."

The multi-million pound investment in a 32,000 sq ft plant Dundalk has been supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through Ireland’s inward investment promotion agency IDA Ireland.

It will be utilised by Almac Pharma Services and Almac Clinical Services, both of which are already registered to operate in the Republic.

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