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Sandra McLellan TD emphasises the importance of keeping oil refinery in Whitegate

24 July, 2015

Sinn Féin’s East Cork TD Sandra McLellan has emphasised the importance of ensuring that the oil refinery remains at Whitegate, Co. Cork. Deputy McLellan called on the government, given the strategic importance of oil production to Ireland’s social and economic development, to seriously consider the possibility of acquiring the refinery on behalf of the state.

She made the call after a meeting between a delegation of workers from the refinery and a team of Sinn Féin representatives which also included Liadh Ní Riada MEP and Cllr Pat Buckley. The Sinn Féin delegation also met with senior management from Phillips 66.

Deputy McLellan said;

“The refinery contributes €100 million directly into the local economy and is of huge benefit to the whole Cork Harbour area. It also contributes to at least 600 spin-off jobs and accounts for half the shipping tonnage in Cork Harbour .

“If this refinery ceases to operate after 2016, Ireland will not only lose another vital asset but there will also be massive implications for East Cork and the island as a whole. Sinn Féin wants Whitegate Oil Refinery to be part of Government policy. We need fuel that is secure, sustainable and affordable for Ireland.

“Whitegate Oil Refinery is keeping the price of fuel down. We could end up with a scenario where, as a nation, we will have to export our crude oil and buy it back from other refineries at a much higher price. This would be detrimental to the whole country.

“The refinery was in state ownership for many years before the sale in 2001. The plant is of considerable strategic value. It is essential that we have security of oil supply. While I recognise that some progress has been made in terms of the stock held by the National Oil Reserves Agency, I would be concerned that if we do not have refining capacity here, we will increasingly be at the mercy of other refiners and producers in years to come.

“I am urging the government to do all within its power to ensure that the refinery is kept open, and that Ireland’s capacity to refine oil, and these jobs, are preserved. The possibility of the state acquiring the plant after 2016 should now be given serious consideration by government.”

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