Revive Sugar Factories Call
Over twenty years after the closure of Thurles Sugar Factory, moves are now afoot to request the Government to re-acquire Ireland's sugar beet production quota and to encourage the re-establishment of the country's sugar processing industry.
The suggestion came at a meeting of South Tipperary County Council on Monday last from Cllr. John Fahey of Killenaule, who signalled his belief that a return to sugar production offered opportunities for increasing employment at a time when "we have to get back to basics in this country".
Thurles Sugar Factory had opened in 1934 and had been the most significant employer in the County over the following fifty five years. Its closure in early 1989 had dealt a significant body blow to employment in the County and many have claimed in the intervening years that the town of Thurles and the mid-Tipperary area never recovered economically from its loss.
Cllr. Fahey had listed a notice of motion stating that in view of the recent European Court of Auditors report on the international sugar industry, the Council called on the Government to consider measures which would result in Ireland reacquiring its sugar beet production quota and encourage the re-establishment of the sugar processing industry in Ireland and further that the Council would facilitate a meeting of interested parties with a view to progressing any proposal in this regard.
He stated that what was important was what they did in the future and they should examine every opportunity of increasing employment. He spoke of how long the indigenous sugar industry had been in the country but said any proposal to build a sugar factory would be subject to quotas. Cork County Council had agreed to conduct a feasibility study.
"This needs the goodwill and co-operation of all parties. We should examine all aspects of this. We should be self sufficient in terms of food. We have to get back to the basics in this country", he said.
Cllr. Michael Fitzgerald complimented Cllr. Fahey and said he agreed with him totally. A lot of work would need to be done, he stated, but "it should start here". He suggested looking for support from North Tipperary County Council and having a joint approach. He also proposed sending the notice of motion to all bodies associated with the Council.
Cllr. Jack Crowe fully supported the proposal and said the industry had employed an awful lot of people. "This was another attack on rural Ireland and agriculture. A mistake was made in relation to the sugar industry in this country", he said.
Cllr. Liam Ahearn described the notice of motion as "important" and said what had occurred with the beet industry had been nothing short of criminal. He suggested also contacting Cork County Council and said there had been 500 farmers at a recent meeting in Mallow. "The country is crying out for industry. It was a sad day when Thurles was closed and then Mallow".
Cllr. Michael Anglim said it was an important motion for every farmer. Beet, he stated, had been a great rotation crop and it had been a pity that it had been lost.
Revive Sugar Factories Call
"They say there is a hope that it could come back again. If anything can be done it should be done", he said.
Cllr. John Crosse believed that there had been bad advice in relation to the closure of the sugar beet factories. The potential of such factories was now seen and he agreed that they should look at this area.
Cllr. Denis Landy supported. He stated that there was a lot of work to be done but they had to start somewhere. "There is an opportunity there", he said.