Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, has asked the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee to make a recommendation strongly opposing the potential the sale of the Coillte crop.
The Minister for Agriculture stated in the Dáil recently that a decision on the proposed sale is imminent and Deputy Ó Cuív said it is important the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture voice its unanimous opposition to this.
“A recent IMPACT report informed us that 12,000 jobs could be at risk with the proposed sale of the Coillte crop.
“This alone should be a reason to strongly oppose any moves to sell the harvesting rights of Coillte. The company has made a profit each year for the past five years, despite the downturn in the economy. The timber mills in Ireland are also thriving; this is even more remarkable considering the downturn in the construction industry. Any moves that could potentially threaten the timber industry should also be opposed as it would hike up the costs of timber.
“Based on the hearings that the Agriculture Committee has had to date, it is clear that the sale of the Coillte crop would be against the national interest. It is morally and strategically wrong.
“The Coillte estate includes 11 Forest Parks and more than 150 recreation sites. It is one of Ireland’s most significant recreational and environmental resources, this is borne out by the fact that each year over 18 million individual visits are made to the estate. These visits are made by orienteers, hillwalkers and runners, local people, families and thousands of tourists every year.
“This use of the Coillte estate by the people of Ireland has been made possible by the open access policy that has existed for almost 50 years. Coillte’s estate is publicly owned land; it should be managed and maintained for the benefit of current and future generations of Irish people.
“The long-term viability of Coillte and the timber industry would be under threat with this proposed sale. I am calling on the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee to see this sense by sending out a strong message opposing this proposed sale of this vital national asset.”