Irish Ispat, the company formerly known as Irish Steel, is to shut its steel-making operations in Haulbowline, County Cork, with the loss of 400 jobs. The decision was taken because of continuing losses at the company.

The plant was known as Irish Steel before it was bought by Irish Ispat Ltd. from the Government in May 1996. The company, a subsidiary of Ispat International, which is the world's 8th largest steel producer, says that it has injected £24m into the company since then and claims that it has met all of the commitments made to the Goverment following the sale.

Now it says that it is losing three quarters of a million pounds every month. It has increased steel output but attempts to reduce costs and increase production recently did not, according to the company, seem to have support from trade union officials.

One of the largest employers in that region, the loss of 400 jobs will be a severe blow, in particular to the Cobh and Harbour area of Cork. The company says that £36m is due to creditors and is calling for a creditors meeting to appoint a liquidator.

In a separate development, Nortel Networks, the Canadian telecommunications equipment company, has announced that it is to lose 10,000 jobs worldwide. Nortel employs over 2,000 people in Galway, Dublin and Belfast; however, a company spokesman said that he could not confirm whether or not the job cuts would affect its operations here.

It was a bad week of job losses in the country. The Irish Ispat announcement comes on top of 100 jobs losses at the Glaxo Smith Kline company in Dungarvan, 400 at Xerox in Dundalk, 130 at Wexford Weaving, and 125 voluntary lay-offs at Dell in Bray and at Cherrywood.