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Farmers and not Greencore should benefit from compensation package for Irish sugar beet industry - Ferris

12 July, 2006

Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Martin Ferris TD said 'Greencore should not be allowed to profit from their decision to destroy the sugar beet industry. It is the 3,700 sugar beet growers who should get the majority share of the €144 million EU restructuring fund for the Irish Sugar Industry.'

He said 'It is still possible to retain the Irish sugar beet industry if the government should the same commitment to the industry as countries such as France, Greece and Finland.'

Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan is due to make an announcement in relation to the restructuring fund this afternoon.

Deputy Ferris said, "The asset stripping of Greencore was a disgrace and could have been blocked by the Government who hold the golden share in the company. The property developers and British investors in Greencore should not now be rewarded for leaving the industry and destroying the livelihood of Ireland's 3,700 sugar beet growers. The majority share of the €144million EU restructuring fund should go to the beet growers.

"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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