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Minister Coughlan expressed regret at decision by Greencore to cease sugar production

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, expressed regret at the announcement of the decision by Greencore to discontinue sugar production in Mallow. She said that it was a commercial decision by the company having regard to the current situation on the sugar market.

Minister Coughlan said: "The decision taken by the Greencore Board marks the end of an era and is obviously difficult for everyone concerned including workers, beet growers and all those who have depended on the sector in one way or another over the years. The EU Commission's impact assessment of the reform had foreseen such a severe impact on a small number of Member States including Ireland. The support prices subsequently agreed by the Council of Ministers allowed the possibility of the continuation of sugar production for some period but the deterioration in the market situation has obviously been decisive for Greencore."

The Minister pointed out she had negotiated substantial EU funds of around €310 million by way of compensation for Ireland precisely because of the potentially severe impact of the reform. In addition to the single payment, restructuring aid and diversification funds will also become available in the event of factory closure. The procedure stipulated in the reform regulations for drawing down these funds will now have to be followed. In this context the company will be required to submit an application for restructuring aid including a restructuring plan to cover the economic, social and environmental aspects of the factory closure.

15 March, 2006

Date Released: 15 March 2006