Building Your Business
Cross-border PLATO Cluster Commences in Castleblayney, Monaghan

Today saw PLATO launch its second Management Development Programme of the 2019-20 Season at Irish Homecare in Castleblayney.

The Monaghan Cluster welcomes small companies from both Ireland and Northern Ireland and from diverse industry sectors to the PLATO EBR Programme. For the 2019-20 Programme, PLATO held open recruitment for all areas in the Region and only 10 small participant companies will make the cut in each cluster in order to ensure a rich but focussed learning environment for all.

The industry sectors represented include civil engineering, professional services, retail, horticulture, music, construction and manufacturing. The programme offers owner managers a business support forum where they can network and discuss business ideas with peers and established large ‘parent’ companies in the region. These ‘parent’ companies are leaders in their industry sectors and support the programme by sharing their skills and experience within the network. PLATO EBR is delighted to have announced today its two key leaders Sally Murtagh, Founder and Owner of Irish Homecare and Tommy O’Donaghue Consumer Foods Manager ROI/International with Lakeland Dairies/Lacpatrick to support this Monaghan cluster.

Sally said, “We’ve learnt a lot over the years from things we could have done different and if I can share those golden snippets of learning with the group, I’m happy to do so”. Sally talked about her background in healthcare, she has been at the front-end and saw how things could be done differently, and better. She has worked off that premise with family members and things have grown ever since into what the company has achieved today".

Tommy O’Donaghue of Lakeland Dairies and Lacpatrick talked about the rich history of the milk co-operative, steeped in history and tradition.  Tommy referred to “the volatility of world markets for a commodity product, the company has had to embrace change for growth – from mergers to moving away from the Tetra pack – it is all relevant!” Tommy was keen to emphasise, “people talk a lot about being customer-facing but it takes serious effort to build customer relationships and communication is so important and it should be centre-stage activity.”

Some takeaways from the session were: -

-          Importance of being open-minded to learning from others in other industry sectors

-          Growth means different things to different companies/individuals – knowing what you can realistically achieve but challenges your growth goals with learned PLATO peers

-          Importance of planning the end-game – succession planning as an enabler for growth

-          Growth steps – taking the next step keeping an eye to the bigger picture or the “must win battles”

“There is no hiding place in reflection – PLATO makes you accountable to yourself”

Dr Cecilia Hegarty manager of PLATO in the EBR Region encouraged PLATO participant companies to “take the time out to work on the business and enjoy the intellectual challenge it provides”.

Attendees were officially welcomed by Director of PLATO EBR, Dr Cecilia Hegarty in thanking the main sponsor for this cluster Monaghan County Council and Local Enterprise Office and Newry Mourne and Down District Council. Cecilia emphasised how parent companies underpin the work of the Network and the importance of acknowledging the support of Lakeland Dairies/Lacpatrick and Irish Homecare.

PLATO EBR is funded by the four Local Enterprises Offices and County Councils in Cavan, Louth, Meath and Monaghan and four Northern Ireland partners of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Mid Ulster District Council and Fermanagh and Omagh Council.

PLATO has additional groups operational across the Region, to see if we can welcome you into another cluster as a small participant company or a parent company please email

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