Minister Humphreys launches a Local Action Plan for Monaghan entitled “Whither the Furniture Industry”
An action plan to secure and boost the Wood Furniture Industry in Monaghan was launched on Friday 29th May by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Ms Heather Humphreys T.D.
The plan aims to
- Identify future areas of focus and opportunities for those business owners looking to remain within the furniture industry; and
- Investigate of diversification options for business owners with vacant buildings who have left, or are considering leaving the furniture industry and entering into other emerging sectors within the local economy;
Minister Humphreys stated that, “The Government is determined to support and develop our traditional indigenous sectors, such as the wood and furniture making industry. These industries are the backbone of our rural economies in counties such as Monaghan. The WoodFoot Print Project recognises the valuable contribution of the indigenous furniture industry here in Monaghan, and charts a way forward for the industry to grow and develop. The Project is an excellent example of a partnership approach, which will help to not just secure, but boost, the future of the industry”.
Cathaoirleach of Monaghan County Council, Mr Padraig Mc Nally stated that “the active furniture sector in Monaghan however remains a key contributor to our local economy and this is demonstrated through its estimated contribution of circa €50 million p.a., and for a rural based county that does not benefit significantly from high end manufacturing and investment from multinationals, I firmly believe that investment in our local traditional indigenous sectors is of paramount importance”. He went on further to state that the closure of the Bose Factory in Carrickmacross, where “people will collect their last pay check and redundancy today, is further evidence why we need to support local indigenous businesses and keep them on a sustainable platform so that they continue to thrive and remain as the back bone of our economy”.
Mr Mc Nally also commended the Northern Western Regional Assembly and Monaghan County Council for participating in the URBACT Programme and developing this project and singled out the “significant contributions of Mr Pádraig Maguire, Project Coordinator on the Wood FootPrint Project and Mr Dermot Mc Nally of Rossmore Furniture (Chairman of the Local Support Group(LSG)) for their hard work and dedication in delivering this Local Action Plan and the short film produced that are on display here today”.
Other contributions on the day included Councillor Sean Conlon who is Cathaoirleach of Monaghan Municipal District and a member of the LSG who delivered a detailed presentation on the background, context and reflections on his participation in the project. Significantly, Cllr Conlon pointed out that the furniture industry had declined across Europe, Ireland, and more locally in Monaghan in recent decades through globalisation and the importation of cheaper products from eastern economies. He did however outline that through primary research on this project that “there remains a strong cluster of small businesses within County Monaghan that are very active within the industry but remain operational under the radar of national and regional agencies due to the nature, scale and make up of their businesses”. He went on to state that “there are approximately 70+ companies employing around 444 persons within the wood and furniture sector in Monaghan, and as Cllr Mc Nally referred to earlier, this sector is worth in the region of €50 million per annum and should therefore not be under estimated in terms of its contribution to our local economy”.
Andrew Hetherington, CEO Business to Arts Ltd outlined the importance of clusters and alternative funding sources like crowd funding to fund initiative’s emerging from this project and provided good examples of where these work elsewhere in Ireland and Europe. Project Coordinator, Mr Pádraig Maguire provided a closing speech remarking that ‘today marks the end of the development phase of the Wood FootPrint Project and the commencement of the implementation phase, which is essentially where the real work starts. If the implementation of the five key actions identified in the plan are not supported and developed, this document will become a top shelf publication and the whole learning and experience gained will be wasted and the industry will continue to decline further at local, regional and national level”. Mr Maguire went on to outline a number of national and EU Funding Programmes that will be targeted to draw down further funds to ensure that implementation of this Local Action Plan actually happens.
The Wood Footprint Project is an EU funded project under the URBACT II Programme which focused on the Wood Manufacturing sector. Recent years have seen a considerable decline in the wood industry both in Ireland and across Europe. Participation in this project has provided businesses in Monaghan, Local and Regional Bodies, the opportunity to work and network with other European Cities faced with similar challenges in terms of the decline of their wood and furniture industry. There were 9 other European Partners from 8 EU countries involved in this project. Each partner participating in the project developed their own individual Local Action Plan targeted on local solutions for local problems.
The overall project and the Local Action Plan have been very well received locally in Monaghan, the key outputs of which are best summarised through the chart below:
Further information on the project is available from Pádraig Maguire at the offices of Northern and Western Regional Assembly and their website www.nwra.ie OR Monaghan County Council website at www.monaghan.ie . A new website has also been created for the recently formed Business Association for the furniture industry entitled Association of Furniture Manufacturers Ireland (FMI) at www.furnituremanufacturersireland.com . Further details are available from the main contact point, Mr Dermot Mc Nally, Rossmore Furniture, email@example.com