EU sugar changes not so sweet for Ardfinnan
Published 16/11/2010 | 05:00
Hundreds of young farmers were saved from the boat to England by the sugar industry, according to Tipperary tillage farmer George Mason.
But the closure of the Carlow factory in 2005 -- and Mallow in Co Cork just a year later -- saw an end to the industry.
Mr Mason's late father, Pat, had kept the business going in the Ardfinnan area for almost 40 years before he handed it over to his son in 2000.
"Almost as soon as I took it over, it was gone. It was a big shock to the system," said Mr Mason. "It seemed so strange that you could just turn off an industry at the whim of somebody in Brussels."
This week's report on the EU's sugar reform exposes how the European Commission botched the "restructuring" of the industry.
The EU Court of Auditors found that there was no need to close Mallow after all. But it's too late now as the plant has already been bulldozed.
Greencore had hoped to develop the Mallow and Carlow sites but the slump in the property has put paid to those ambitions.
Watching Greencore transport equipment from the Carlow plant to Mallow in 2005 was painful for George.