On Wednesday last, the High Court placed Cappoquin Chickens, which employs over 200 people in the west of the county, into interim examinership.

The court was told that the statement of affairs of Michael D O’Connor, Sons & Company, trading as Cappoquin Chickens, shows a deficit of €806,000 on a going concern basis and a winding up basis deficit totalling €7 million.

In a petition to the court, Cappoquin Chickens cited several factors behind its recent problems, including the 2006 bird flu outbreak, the increase in foodstuff costs and low cost imports from Asia and South America.

According to the information presented to Mrs Justice Mary Finlay-Geoghegan, Cappoquin Chickens is considered to have a “reasonable prospect” of survival as long as certain conditions are met.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael Agriculture spokesman Michael Creed has described the news of Cappoquin Chickens’ examinership as “devastating” to its employees.

“The wider implications for the agri-food industry are alarming,” he said.

“The new Agriculture Minister will be keenly aware of the closure of Grove Turkeys in Monaghan just a few months ago and, with Cappoquin now in trouble, he must undo the damage done by his Government’s GM policy shift.”

He said that his party’s campaign on food labelling laws “has fallen on deaf ears in Government so far but the plight of Cappoquin Chickens is a grim wake-up call”.