CORK County Council management has identified four sites within the county that it believes could host a new sugar factory, amid accusations that it was "slow off the mark" in promoting Cork to the project's developers.
At Monday's meeting of the County Council, County Manager Martin Riordan confirmed that he and members of the Council executive recently met a deputation from Beet Ireland to discuss the group's requirements for the proposed beet production plant.
Councillors heard that the executive agreed to identify zoned parcels of land suitable for the project, and that four sites have been selected for consideration. Mr Riordan refused to disclose the locations of the four sites recommended to Beet Ireland.
Cllr Noel McCarthy (Lab) said that Kilworth was an ideal location as it is close to the motorway and there is plenty of available land in the area.
"Employment is badly needed in the area, this is a positive first step towards getting the factory up and running," he said.
"Wherever it ends up, the most important thing is that County Cork is the place for it," he said.
Cllr Frank O'Flynn (FF) said that the North Cork region had a proud tradition of supplying high quality produce and that it has a well educated, qualified workforce.
The former sugar factory site in Mallow was suggested by Cllr Timmy Collins (Ind) who said that the surrounding towns of Kanturk and Newmarket would benefit from the jobs boost the factory would provide.
"We have long queues at the social welface office in Newmarket," he said.
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) accused the council of being "slow off the mark" in marketing the county to Beet Ireland in comparison to other counties, a charge refuted by Mr Riordan who said he was "irritated" by the claim.
"We are methodical and professional in how we go about things," he said.
Mr Riordan said the Council went through a detailed process that selected sites that would meet a number of criteria.
He is due to meet with Beet Ireland again in six weeks.
"I will meet with them as often as they want, they will get the same consideration as any major industry development," Mr Riordan said.