Dáil Éireann - Volume 597 - 15 February, 2005

Written Answers - Company Closures.

  387. Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the steps she will take to assist the farmers affected by recent Greencore closures in Athy, County Carlow and Banagher, County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4607/05]

  396. Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food her plans to meet a company (details supplied) concerning the sugar and malting barley industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4877/05]

  397. Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food her plans to meet with a company (details supplied) to discuss matters concerning the malting barley industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4878/05]

  Mary Coughlan: I propose to take Questions Nos. 387, 396 and 397 together.

I am aware that Minch Malt Limited, which is part of the Greencore Malting Group, is to close its malting plant at Banagher, County Offaly, and its two intake points at Tullamore, County Offaly, and Borrisokane, County Tipperary, with effect from September 2005. I am of course concerned about the closure and the impact it will have on jobs and families in the area. However, the decision to close these facilities was a commercial decision taken by the company itself. The reason given for the closure is increased competition on export markets. Greencore has decided to consolidate its malting operations at its bigger plant in Athy in order to solidify the domestic market. I understand from Greencore that the Banagher, Tullamore and Borrisokane facilities will be offered for sale as going concerns and may be taken over by current players in the trade.

Farmers who are affected by the closure of Banagher may decide to produce barley for the feed barley market instead. It has been suggested that this will put pressure on grain storage in the midlands area next autumn. Consequently, my Department is currently carrying out an inventory of grain storage capacity in the Offaly-north Tipperary area. In the event that this inventory shows up a problem in storage capacity for the coming harvest, I am willing to examine the possibility of making funds available to deal with the problem.

The decisions by Greencore to close the malting facilities and the sugar plant at Carlow were discussed in the course of a meeting which I had recently with the company. I have no plans to meet any other company regarding the malting barley industry at the present time.