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Sinn Féin set out proposals to maintain Irish sugar beet industry

13 July, 2006


Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Martin Ferris TD has called on the Irish Government to intervene immediately to prevent the dismantling of sugar plants at Mallow and Carlow and to adapt the plants for ethanol production. He said 'With real political will the production of sugar beet could remain a viable and productive option for years to come. Deputy Ferris will today attend the Killag show in Wexford where Sinn Féin will set out their proposals to maintain the Irish sugar beet industry.

Deputy Ferris said, "In an island nation like ours, sugar is a strategic commodity and the industry was built up by decades of hard work by growers and workers. The government decision to allow the industry to be completely eradicated is disastrous and is totally unnecessary. With political will the production of sugar beet could remain a viable and productive option for years to come and that is what Sinn Féin is committed to seeing happen.

"The sugar regime proposed in Europe is not in Ireland's long term interests and sells our country short in the same way Irish fishing rights were negotiated away on entry to the EEC. The Government should reject the proposed regime and renegotiate a deal that secures the upkeep of an Irish quota.

"The asset stripping of Greencore was a disgrace and should have been blocked by the Government who hold the golden share in the company. The property developers and British investors in Greencore should not have been rewarded for irregularly 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 have gone to the beet growers. Greencore's disgraceful threats last night to go to the courts to get even more money added insult to injury.

"Production of sugar beet could remain a viable and productive option for Ireland, whether it is refined as sugar or as syrup for the production of Ethanol as a bio fuel. Ireland is heavily and dangerously dependant on imported oil and gas. There is also a European requirement that bio fuel replaces 5.75% of petrol imports by 2010. This provides a real opportunity for Irish beet growers.

"The government's laissez-faire attitude, that we can import this to avoid fines, is unacceptable. The plants in Carlow and Mallow are eminently suitable for conversion to producing a thick syrup from sugar beet for ethanol production. Sinn Féin proposes that:

1) The Government rejects the regime proposed in Europein 2006 and renegotiates a deal to keep the quota.

2) The Government adopts a national bio fuel policy, in particular ethanol production involving tax incentives

3) The Government adapts the Mallow and Carlow plants for ethanol production

4) The Government uses its golden share in Greencore to prevent the dismantling or any other action of the plants in Mallow and Carlow which would compromise its suitability for sugar syrup for ethanol production.

5) The Government ensure the retention of sugar making capabilities for the momentum." ENDS

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