Cllrs want Coillte to dump deal with British investment house

March 7th, 2023 11:50 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Cllr Moynihan said that if this deal goes ahead, it will lead to competition with farmers.

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A COUNCILLOR has called on the government to withdraw from the Coillte deal with UK investment house Gresham as she claims it is ‘anti farming and anti-community.’

Deputy county mayor Cllr Deirdre O’Brien (FF) raised the motion at a meeting of the local authority and said that people are ‘totally opposed’ to the deal with the London-based pension fund.

‘It is not suitable for a foreign body to come into Ireland and take over our land. Instead of learning from past mistakes, this is investor-lead, its anti-farmer, anti-community  and will again pitch farmers against foresters,’ said Cllr O’Brien.

‘I believe the deal is not yet signed by the government and I ask that they withdraw.’

Her colleague, Cllr Gobnait Moynihan, said that if this deal goes ahead, it will lead to competition with Irish farmers, and they will push the farmers out of the market.

‘We were long enough fighting for our land to be handing it over freely like this to a fund is crazy,’ said Cllr Moynihan.

Cllr Marcia D’Alton (Ind) supported the motion but said this has happened due to the government’s policy on climate and said it’s a ‘horrific situation’.

She said the deal would enable a foreign company to  compete against Irish farmers. ‘We spent so many years fighting for our land and it’s a terrible situation,’ said Cllr D’Alton.

Cllr Alan O’Connor (GP) said he shares the unease of this proposed partnership between Coillte and Gresham, while Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) said he is very concerned at the  deal.

‘While I acknowledge Coillte have the responsibility of developing forestry and mitigating climate change, I find it extraordinary that they couldn’t do negotiations with Irish companies or bodies to buy land. This mechanism will effectively extricate forestry grants out of this country to people who have absolutely no commitment to this State,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.

‘We’re celebrating a lot of centenaries and I find it extraordinary and extremely insensitive that that this is happening. This is a step much too far and I plead with the government not to sign the deal.’

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