Sale of Coillte is ruled out by Fine Gael and Labour
The Labour Party and Fine Gael have ruled out the possible privatisation of the state forestry company Coillte.
The statements follow recent media reports that Coillte might be sold off due to the collapse in public finances.
The possibility of selling Coillte, which owns more than one million acres of forest and upland -- 7pc of the land area of the State -- was initially raised by Colm McCarthy in the Bord Snip Nua report and came back into focus following the announcement of an examination of State assets by the Department of Finance.
However, Fine Gael agriculture spokesman Andrew Doyle has vigorously defended the continued State ownership of Coillte.
"Coillte and forestry are now central to the change in thinking needed to deal with the effects of climate change and a low carbon economy. The Fine Gael 'New ERA' plan will invest in a combined Coillte and Bord na Mona to increase forestry planting and to create a biomass-for-energy industry," Mr Doyle said.
"Our vital national resources are not up for sale. National resources like forestry, agriculture and marine resources are held in trust for all the people of Ireland.
"Ministers are stewards of these resources and must return them to the people with benefits after their term in office. That includes the forests of Ireland," he added.