Bishop calls for prayers as MBNA concerns rumble on

Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Colm O’Reilly has urged members of the public to pray for staff at embattled credit card giant MBNA amid ongoing concerns over 700 jobs could be lost at its Carrick-on-Shannon call centre.

Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Colm O’Reilly has urged members of the public to pray for staff at embattled credit card giant MBNA amid ongoing concerns over 700 jobs could be lost at its Carrick-on-Shannon call centre.

Dr O’Reilly made the plea less than 48 hours after MBNA’s parent company-Bank of America-unveiled plans to pull out of its credit card operations in Ireland and the UK.

In a statement released through the Catholic Church’s press office, the veteran cleric said parishes across the diocese would hold a series of special prayers for staff this weekend.

“I am deeply saddened to hear the news today that MBNA may lose up to 1,000 jobs,” he said. “This is a severe blow to the MBNA employees in Carrick-on-Shannon, their families and the local economy. During these difficult times I am praying for everybody and especially those whose livelihoods are directly affected by this decision.”

Describing Monday evening’s news as a “shocking announcement,” Bishop O’Reilly said the onus was now on Enterprise Minister, Richard Bruton and key government agencies to ensure as many jobs as possible are saved.

He added the reported threat to around 700 call centre and online customer service positions would have far-reaching repercussions for the wider local economy of Leitrim and neighbouring counties like Longford.

“(It) not only directly affects MBNA workers but, in addition, it jeopardises thousands of ancillary jobs which have been created in the retail trade and elsewhere, since the 1990s, which rely for survival on the pay spend of the workers.

“The economic progress experienced over the last decade in Leitrim is in no small part due to MBNA. It is incumbent on public representatives to continue to seek a commitment from government to support these workers by every means possible,” he said.

With those sentiments no doubt ringing in the ears of government chiefs, thoughts are now expected to turn to securing a potential buyer or new investors in a bid to save the jobs and ensure the business’ long term viability.

A lack of confidence and crippling debts encountered by Ireland’s domestic banking sector has led some experts to all but rule out the prospect of a homegrown buyer emerging.

One reportedly interested observer-Barclays Bank-have so far stayed silent on mounting speculation it was keen on making a bid for the firm.

As revealed by the Leader earlier this week, around 100 of the estimated 700 positions under threat come from County Longford although a spokeswoman for Bank of America said no timescale on any sale had been made at this stage.