The Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD has claimed that the Irish sugar factory at Mallow in county Cork was closed unnecessarily in order to facilitate property speculation.
Speculation has swirled around the decision by part State-owned Greencore to close down the plant after the EU Court of Auditors found that there was no need to do so and that the plant was profitable.
A Committee meeting of the Dublin parliament was held this week on the possible redevelopment of the sugar industry, once a major employer in Ireland.
The director general of the Department of Agriculture, Tom Moran claimed sugar could not be produced in the State under current EU regulations. However, he said he would favour conducting a feasibility study to determine if the industry could start up again.
Ferris told the committee that former Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan, who presided over the closure and had administered the state’s so-called ‘golden share’ in the once publicly owned company, ought to have appeared before the Committee to explain what had happened at the time of the closure.
“In 2006 we showed that the state’s ‘golden share’ entitled the Minister to prevent the closure of Mallow and the disposal of any lands or assets. We can only assume therefore that the then Minister agreed with Greencore in closing down the factory.
“The question is, why did Greencore decide to close down Mallow and before that the factory at Carlow?
“Given the involvement of failed property speculator Liam Carroll and the subsequent attempt to build on the former factory sites we can only assume that the reason for the closure was to facilitate yet another failed punt on the dying property market.
“That is why hundreds of jobs were destroyed.”