News UK & Ireland has announced plans to close its print plant in Kells in Co Meath and outsource printing to third party print sites in Ireland.

59 staff are employed at the facility, which prints a number of publications including The Sun and The Sunday Times.

A 30-day consultation process with employee representatives gets underway today and a spokesperson for the firm said all final decisions remain subject to this consultation.

The decision follows a review of the News Press Ireland Limited (NPIL) print business.

The company said the development will have no impact on the publication of News Ireland's newspaper brands.

"News UK & Ireland Limited will continue to invest in our quality journalism and serving our readers. Although this was a difficult conclusion to reach, we believe it provides the most viable and sustainable long-term solution for the printing business," a spokesperson for News UK and Ireland Ltd said.

"We wish to thank the News Press Ireland staff in Kells for their continued cooperation and understanding, and we are committed to offering every possible support as we undertake the staff consultation process."

News UK & Ireland bought the print business from Smurfit Kappa in June of this year, but has owned the site since 2000.

At the time, SIPTU sought commitments on behalf of its members from the management of News UK & Ireland Ltd that staff agreements would continue after the purchase.

Today SIPTU organiser, Teresa Thompson, said a meeting between the union and management has been scheduled for tomorrow afternoon to begin the process of active engagement and to examine the proposal to close the plant.

"We want to ensure our members terms and conditions on redundancy are honoured," she said.

Mr Thompson added that the workers concerned were shocked and devastated by the decision to close the plant, having worked through the pandemic and the review by the company.