Blow for 22 staff at Navan print plant after closure announcement

Meath is about to lose the second of its high-profile newspaper printing plants with the announcement last week that management and staff at the Celtic Media Print plant outside Navan are entering consultation talks on the future of the 22 full and part-time jobs there.

This follows the closure of the former Smurfit Kappa owned print plants at Kells in October 2021 with the loss of 65 jobs.

Employees were informed by Celtic Media Print management at a meeting last Wednesday that the escalating costs of running the newspaper printing plant had made the operation increasingly unviable and that the plant’s closure in mid-December was being proposed.

A 30-day consultation period has begun during which staff are been informed about the reasons for the closure, their redundancy entitlements, and certain opportunities for jobs elsewhere in the print sector.

The Mullaghboy plant has been in operation since 2001 but has been reducing staff numbers in recent years. It currently employs 15 full-time and seven part-time staff.

Built using the renowned German KBA print press technology, the plant was first owned by the Davis family who secured the contract to print the Trinity Mirror titles, including the Irish Mirror.

Initially a very valuable contract, the decline over the past decade in print runs of the tabloids under this contract as well as in the volumes of weekly papers printed, including Celtic Media Group’s own six titles, put pressure on the viability of the Navan plant. The contract to print the Irish edition of the Racing Post was secured in 2016 but a major restructuring of the operation at Mullaghboy was required in 2019, resulting in 16 redundancies from the print staff of 30 and the cessation of the Trinity Mirror contract on cost grounds.

Last week’s announcement follows the shutting of the Smurfit print plant in Kells in October 2021 and the closure of the Mediahuis plant in Newry, announced last month.

“We wish to thank our staff for their high level of professionalism over the years,” said a company statement.

“We are working to ensure an orderly wind-down of operations, assisting as many as possible in locating new roles elsewhere.

“Reduced volumes of papers being printed has been a trend in recent years but the drastic rise in electricity, fuel and newsprint costs in the past year has made it unsustainable to continue in operation.”

Celtic Media Group’s own newspapers, which include Meath Chronicle and The Anglo Celt will be printed from mid-December at a Dublin print plant.