A new offer to buy Waterford Crystal and keep the plant and visitor centre open will be made by a former chief executive of the company, RTÉ News has learned.

John Foley has joined a US-based consortium which is making a new bid for the company, he told RTÉ.

Mr Foley, who stood down as CEO of Waterford Crystal after it went into receivership, said the bid was backed by US investment group Clarion Capital.

He said the group believed it could secure ten year supply and price agreements for Waterford Crystal products.

Peter Cameron, a former CEO of Waterford Wedgwood, is also involved in the consortium.

Mr Foley said it was essential that manufacturing was continued at Waterford, and that the group plans to make an offer for Waterford Crystal in the short term to the receiver.

Waterford Crystal closed today

Employees only learned of Waterford Crystal's closure when the Kilbarry plant was closed this afternoon, with about 480 employees made redundant.

The receiver of Waterford Wedgwood, David Carson of Deloitte, wrote today to staff at Waterford Crystal and Cash's Mail Order, informing them that manufacturing will cease with immediate effect at Kilbarry, Co Waterford.

He said the Visitors' Centre in Waterford will also close.

The receiver noted that the decision to cease manufacturing does not necessarily mean operations in Waterford will not open again in the future.

The receiver said he is continuing negotiations with parties who might be interested in buying the company's assets.

When the staff were told of the decision, there were angry and violent scenes at the showroom.

A number of employees are refusing to leave sections of the factory and have started an unofficial sit in.

The employees say they will not leave until they meet with the receiver.

Waterford Sinn Féin Councillor Joe Kelly, who is occupying the visitors' gallery at Waterford Crystal with approximately 100 other workers, has called on the Government to intervene to stop the receiver from closing the company.

Councillor Kelly said just yesterday the receiver announced that he would not close the company while there are interested investors, but that today he has gone back on his word.

The company has been in receivership for the past four weeks.