18 jobs will be lost to Fivemiletown with news that Dale Farm are not to renew their lease on the Fivemiletown Creamery site. The production of cheese at the site will officially cease in June 2019.

Unite the Union representative, Liam Gallagher, who represents some of the workers at the Creamery called the decision a “blatant case of asset stripping” by Dale Farm.

The news will come as a blow to the local economy with staff being offered relocation to Dale Farm’s production facility at Dromona, Cullybackey in County Antrim. The move will also see some of the Fivemiletown creamery chees lines cease, although Fivemiletown Goats Cheese will continue to be produced.

Dale Farm, in a statement, said:

“Following careful consideration, maintaining production of Fivemiletown cheese at the Fivemiletown site was deemed no longer feasible. Dale Farm will relocate production of the main lines of our Fivemiletown cheeses to our facility at Dromona Cullybackey. However, the low volume Fivemiletown cheese retail lines will no longer be carried. Dale Farm is keen to ensure the Fivemiletown brand remains active in Northern Ireland and will continue to produce Fivemiletown goat’s cheese.”

In May 2014, Dale Farm bought the Fivemiletown speciality cheese brand from Glanbia Ingredients Ireland and reached agreement with Fivemiletown & Brookeborough Co-operative to take over the production of its cheese at the Fivemiletown site. Dale Farm leased the premises from Fivemiletown & Brookeborough Co-operative and took over employment of its staff.

Unite the Union representative, Mr. Gallagher has said the Union rejects the case being made by Dale Farm for the closure.

“This decision to close production at the site has not been forced on the company but arises from the desire to maximise profits off the back of workers. The eighteen workers at the site have been offered redeployment but it is to production sites in North Antrim – unlikely to suit any of them. We reject outright the case for closure and demand instead that Dale Farm invest further in Fivemiletown with a view to increasing its productive capacity.”

UUP MLA Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA, Rosemary Barton said the news was “disappointing”.

“Once again South Tyrone has been hit by the closure of another factory. This is extremely disappointing news coming less than six months after the ceasing of the precast concrete manufacturing A&G Plant at Ballygawley.

“While Dale Farm are keen to support the 18 staff that will be made redundant and offer them similar positions within Dale Farm, unfortunately these positions are some distance from Fivemiletown.

“I have requested a meeting with Mr Nick Whelan, Group Chief Executive of Dale Farm Ltd in the near future to discuss the matter in more fully and the options available for the work force.”