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Decision to reward Greencore for destroying sugar beet industry disgraceful - Ferris

12 July, 2006

Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Martin Ferris TD said "It is a disgrace that Greencore have been allowed to profit from their decision to destroy the sugar beet industry." Deputy Ferris was speaking today after Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan announced that 70% of the €144 million EU restructuring fund for the Irish Sugar Industry is to go to Greencore. He said the 3,700 sugar beet growers who should have got the majority share.

He said, "Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan's announcement this afternoon was an absolute disgrace. The majority share of the €144million EU restructuring fund should have gone the beet growers. This decision means the property developers and British investors in Greencore are now shamefully being rewarded for asset stripping Greencore, leaving the industry and destroying the livelihood of Ireland's 3,700 sugar beet growers and also the workers at the Greencore plant in Mallow who are now only going to get a statutory redundancy package.

"Tomorrow Sinn Féin will launch a major policy statement in relation to the Irish sugar beet industry. We believe that the government have handled this issue as badly as they have the issue of fish quotas. They stood idly by while farmers in this state lost their entire sugar beet quota while farmers in France increased their quotas. Their sole focus has been on securing a short term compensation package rather than looking at ways to secure the long term future of the industry.

"Sinn Féin wants to see the sugar beet industry survive and the livelihoods of growers and those working in the industry protected. With political will restructuring can be achieved as has been proven by the approach taken by governments in Greece, Finland and France. If the Irish government believe it is important enough they have the power to maintain sugar beet production in Ireland.

"Among Sinn Féin's key proposals will be:

· Renegotiation of a deal to keep the sugar beet quota

· The government needs to adopt a bio fuel policy , which should include tax incentives for the production of ethanol

· The production plants in Mallow and Carlow should be adapted for ethanol production

· The Government should intervene to prevent the dismantling of plants for short term profit and ensure that sugar making capabilities are retained until all possible avenues to keep the industry are explored." ENDS

Martin Ferris TD, Wexford Councillor John Dwyer and Waterford Councillor David Cullinane will launch a major policy statement setting out the future of the Irish sugar beet industry at the Killag Agriculture Show in Wexford tomorrow afternoon (Thursday 13th).

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