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Greencore pleads its innocence

Greencore has claimed that decisions made in Brussels and by the Irish Government left the company with little option but to close the Mallow sugar factory in 2006.

Greencore chief executive Patrick Coveney told the Joint Oireachtas on Agriculture that the phased reduction in sugar beet prices -- which was agreed by EU agriculture ministers as part of the sugar rationalisation package -- threatened to undermine beet supplies to Mallow.

Although the company had invested €25m in the north Cork processing facility, Mr Coveney claimed it had no choice but to close the plant and give up the Irish sugar quota.

As part of the €310m compensation package for the closure of the Irish sugar industry, Greencore received in excess of €100m.

Sinn Fein agriculture spokesman Martin Ferris rejected Mr Coveney's claims.

"Despite the EU stating that most of the compensation to Greencore had to be used for redevelopment and to pay redundancy, they had to be dragged into court in order to force them to pay even minimal redundancy to its workforce.

"Clearly they saw the €100m which they received from the EU as another part of their asset stripping of a once proud industry," Mr Ferris said.

Indo Farming