I must apologise for having to seek permission to raise on the Adjournment the subject matter of Question No. 50 and thereby lend myself to what might conceivably be regarded as disservice to this great company, namely the Irish Sugar Company.
This company is one of our few success stories. It was founded practically with the State and grew up with it. It represents the sacrifice and the genius of ordinary Irishmen and Irishwomen. Therefore I wish to see the Sugar Company and its subsidiary remain successful as Irish enterprises and it is because of this that I must now raise some important questions in this House and particularly, perhaps, because of the attitude of the Minister for Finance.
What I am questioning, Sir, is not the good name of the Sugar Company, which is beyond doubt, but a matter of important principle which is based on a fear that a small group of people are given the opportunity to manipulate the company. The power structure as of now leaves a lot to be desired. My fears about this company are easily explained and, despite the contradictions of the Minister for Finance, I believe they are fears shared by many people in this country. When we read the Sunday papers and see articles describing the activities of the foreign company, Heinz, and its new managing director for the UK who is still supposed to be in the employ of this country, we are left to wonder whom the Irish taxpayer is paying to run this very basic and important enterprise.
On the basis of that article, I should like to ask the Minister for Finance if the managing director of the Irish Sugar Company and Erin Foods is being paid by the Irish people to operate their affairs from the head office of Heinz in Britain because as I understand it, and in reply to a question of mine, the Minister says this man resigns his post on 1st May.
There are other important points and questions to be raised. The proposed change in the power managerial structure of the company leaves one to wonder why such an important change could take place without being mentioned in this House and the way in which Ministers seem to concern themselves about the running of the semi-State bodies leaves much to be desired. We should ask for a revaluation of the role of the control of these organisations.
I am very pleased that Mr. O'Reilly has been thought so highly of as to have been awarded a permanent position at £25,000-odd a year and indeed it must be a great tribute to his ability that he should have been so chosen. It is because of that that I question the ethics of his being allowed to keep certain important channels in the structure of the Irish-owned company. The foreign combine, Heinz, recently expanded its control over Fisons Food Products to give it what could only be described as conglomerate status. We would not like to see a situation here whereby the farmer who produces in this country will be providing cheap raw material to be processed by their own company and fed into the Heinz marketing network. I do not believe the Minister would like to see that sort of situation arise, either.
The farmers are alarmed at the apparently unchecked domination of the Sugar Company complex by overtones of outside control. Nothing said by the Minister in this House today allays the fears of these people. We are rightly jealous in this country of the success of that enterprise and we do not wish the situation to arise where, when our success is assured, it is handed over to foreigners.
The people do not want this and I am sure the Minister does not want it either but in all honesty can we ignore the allegations of the former chairman of the Sugar Company, Lieutenant-General Costello, even allowing for a certain prejudice because of the way he was displaced——