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Ferris claims that sugar industry was sacrificed to property developers

11 January, 2011 - by Martin Ferris TD

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD claimed today that the Irish sugar factory was closed unnecessarily in order to facilitate property speculation by Greencore. The Kerry North TD was speaking at a Committee meeting this afternoon on the possible redevelopment of the sugar industry here.

He also stated that former Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan, who presided over the closure and had administered the state’s so-called ‘golden share’ in the once publicly owned company, ought to have appeared before the Committee to explain what had happened at the time of the closure.

Deputy Ferris said:

“This meeting has been called to discuss the redevelopment of the sugar industry and my party has published detailed proposals on reviving the industry, including the prospects for the conversion of beet to ethanol for the production of biofuels.

“However, none of this would have been necessary had the Irish sugar industry not been closed down by Greencore. The EU Court of Auditors has said that there was no need to do so and that Mallow was profitable. In 2006 we showed that the state’s ‘golden share’ entitled the Minister to prevent the closure of Mallow and the disposal of any lands or assets. We can only assume therefore that the then Minister agreed with Greencore in closing down the factory.

“The question is, why did Greencore decide to close down Mallow and before that the factory at Carlow? Given the involvement of failed property speculator Liam Carroll and the subsequent attempt to build on the former factory sites we can only assume that the reason for the closure was to facilitate yet another failed punt on the dying property market.

“That is why hundreds of jobs were destroyed. Despite the EU stating that most of the compensation to Greencore had to be used for redevelopment and to pay redundancy they had to be dragged into court in order to force them to pay even minimal redundancy to its workforce. Clearly they saw the €100 million which they received from the EU as another part of their asset stripping of a once proud industry.

“It is a shame that the Tánaiste is not here to explain how such an industry came to be sacrificed in the interests of failed property speculators.” ENDS

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