Vita Cortex tycoon fought locals in waste row
THE millionaire boss at the centre of the Vita Cortex dispute has hit the headlines before for angering a local community, the Herald can reveal.
Property magnate Jack Ronan felt the wrath of locals in 2002 when he was granted permission to build an incinerator in Co Tipperary.
In the latest row, Vita Cortex claims it can't pay redundancy to 32 laid-off workers, despite a Christmas sit-in by staff seeking their entitlements.
Mr Ronan has today warned that 60 more jobs would be lost at other Vita Cortex plants unless the negative publicity around the Cork plant stops.
"The continued sit-in relating to the closure of the Cork plant and subsequent media coverage has led to the loss of some customers," the company said.
A decade ago, Mr Ronan caused fury when the South Tipperary Anti-Incinerator Campaign (STAIC) objected to a proposed waste facility. An action was initiated in the High Court to challenge the decision by South Tipperary County Council to approve the plant.
In court, Mr Ronan said his company and family had been subjected to a most extraordinarily intensive local and national campaign through television, radio, newspapers, posters and advertisements.
He said they had been subjected to an "expensively orchestrated campaign of invective, intimidation and interference", including surveillance of his property.
He said the campaign had caused much suffering and had turned a large section of the community against the firm.
The row came to an end when the Ronan family decided not to go ahead with the project.
Today Mr Ronan responded to the 32 Vita Cortex workers, who have staged a sit-in since December 16, saying the company has made the "appropriate application" to the Social Insurance Fund "and this hopefully will be paid shortly."
Asked whose fault it was that the workers have not been paid, he said: "Unfortunately the reality is that the downturn in the economy has had a detrimental effect on the company, like so many others.
"The company, particularly the Cork facility, was making a loss for the last three years."
Mr Ronan also said there is currently €2.5m on deposit with AIB under the control of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). The money is held by a Vita Cortex company.
"It could be used to pay the redundancy, if NAMA were agreeable to this. However, NAMA have not agreed to our request to pay redundancies from this source," he added.
NAMA has said it cannot legally do this as the account forms part of the loan guarantee which triggered their involvement and relates to another firm in the group.
Mr Ronan has numerous properties and corporate interests in both Ireland and the UK. His property portfolio is worth millions, despite the market crash.