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Ferris questions Minister on future of Sugar Plants

18 May, 2006

The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD has called on Minister Mary Coughlan to intervene in order to ensure that the Irish sugar sector is maintained despite the attitude of Greencore. He also called on her to meet with the workers from the Mallow plant to whom Greencore are refusing to pay the agreed severance pay. Deputy Ferris raised the issue as a priority question in the Dáil this afternoon.

Deputy Ferris said: "Last week the Minister commented on suggestions that the Mallow plant could be used for the production of biofuels by stating that it was a matter for Greencore. Does she accept that this company -- which presided over the destruction of probably the most successful indigenous industry in this state, with the loss of hundreds of direct jobs and several thousand others in ancillary businesses, not to mention the thousands of beet producers, should have the final say in this?

"Does she not believe that this state, as the former owner on behalf of the people, of Irish Sugar, and as the holder of a so-called golden share, ought to intervene to ensure that Greencore does a bit more in order to retain the beet sector and processing facilities? Or does she believe that the company has the right to walk away with the largest share of the compensation fund at the expense of the beet producers and workers?

"The Minister must, given her responsibility in the matter, agree to meet with the workers from Mallow and ensure that Greencore honours the agreement on severance pay. It is totally unacceptable that a company that stands to benefit massively from what basically amounts to the asset stripping of a former public company be allowed treat it former employees in this manner." ENDS

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