The possibility of a new sugar industry at Lisheen Mine has edged closer with the confirmation by the Minster for Agriculture Simon Coveney that he would “love to see the project happen”.
The Minister was replying to Tipperary Independent Deputy Seamus Healy who told the Dáil that the re-establishment of the industry in Ireland is important not just for the industry but from an employment perspective as it would mean the creation of upwards of 400 direct jobs.
“Further employment would be created in the construction of facilities as well as on farms and among agricultural contractors,” he said. “In Tipperary, we hope that the site just outside Thurles at Lisheen Mine will be used for a processing facility. The county has been hit badly by unemployment over the years. Does the Minister have any information on the site?”
Minister Coveney replied that he was aware of the ongoing work by Beet Ireland and the negotiations that have been taking place with the owners of the Lisheen Mine site.
“It is a very exciting project which I would love to see happen,” he said. “My role as a Minister is to facilitate an end to sugar quotas as soon as possible or, if there is an extension of quotas beyond 2017, to ensure Ireland is allocated a quota to permit the production of sugar to recommence. It is up to commercial operators and organisations such as Beet Ireland to put business plans together to make this work commercially. We must not forget that we will be competing with parts of Europe which already have the infrastructure in place to produce sugar very competitively. We will have to spend approximately €300 million to put a plant together. That is expensive and will involve loans that must be repaid.”
It has been quite clear in the CAP negotiations that, with one or two exceptions, the 18 member states that have sugar industries want to see the sugar quota regime extended until 2020, he said. Along with a number of Ministers from member states that would like to get back into the sugar industry and see the establishment of a freer market for sugar in the EU, he had advocated that we should support the Commission’s position, which is to maintain 2015 as the date to end sugar quotas, as agreed.
“The compromise has been to agree a Council position on 2017 as the end date for the sugar quota regime,” he added. “The compromise has been welcomed strongly by those who want to re-establish a sugar industry in Ireland. They see it as a timeframe they can work with. We need now to agree with the Commission and European Parliament a final date on which to end the sugar regime as part of the trilogue process to conclude a CAP agreement.”
Healy seeks re-opening of Templemore College
The retirement of gardaí and the fact that there are no recruits in the training college in Templemore was raised with the Minister for Justice in the Dail by Tipperary Independent Deputy Seamus Healy.
“Unfortunately, we are fast approaching, if we have not already reached, a situation whereby the effectiveness of policing is being called into question,” he said. “There is a concern generally about policing but a particular concern has been expressed to me by gardaí about community policing. That aspect of policing is not anything like as effective as it was in the past.”
“The Minister said he has a difficulty with money but money is available,” he continued. “The Government has told us that the promissory note deal has saved approximately €1 billion a year, together with the restructuring of loans. Could he immediately recommence Garda recruitment and re-open the college in Templemore for the training of garda recruits as a matter of urgency?”
In reply, Minister Shatter said he wished that we were in a different environment, that we were flaithiúlach with money and that we did not have a fiscal and economic crisis for the Government to address.
It is in the interests of the entire country, he said, that we achieve that outcome so that we resolve our fiscal difficulties and that we can focus entirely on economic growth. That was an issue that is central to the objectives of the Government: to get people back into employment and to reduce public expenditure.
“I want to get people recruited to the Garda force,” he added. “I can say that categorically to the Deputy but I cannot do that responsibly until I know for certain that the funding is available to pay the salaries of the new recruits I want to see being trained in Templemore College.”