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Restructuring of Sugar Industry.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 11 March 2010

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Ceisteanna (15)

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

15 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in view of the overhaul of the EU sugar regime, the amount of money which was sanctioned by the European Union to upskill and retrain workers in the Mallow and Carlow areas; the funding that was made available; if that fund was drawn down from the EU; the way in which that fund has been spent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12039/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

The temporary scheme for the restructuring of the sugar industry, introduced as part of the reform of the EU sugar regime in 2006, provided for payment of EU restructuring aid to three groups of stakeholders: sugar processors, beet growers and specialized beet machinery contractors. The overall amount of aid available was calculated at the rate of €730 per tonne of sugar quota renounced, which in Ireland's case was approximately 200,000 tonnes. To draw down the aid, the sugar processor was required to prepare and implement a restructuring plan, which had to include an environmental plan covering factory demolition and site remediation and a social plan detailing ‘the actions planned with respect to re-training, redeployment and early retirement' of the factory workers concerned. The EU regulations did not specify how the aid was to be allocated amongst the various costs in the restructuring plan.

The restructuring plan submitted by Greencore duly incorporated a social plan in respect of the former Mallow factory workers. The plan did not apply to the former employees of the Carlow factory, which had already closed prior to the reform of the EU sugar regime. In addition to early retirement and redundancy packages, the social plan included support services for the departing Mallow workers such as career counselling, financial advice including pension advice, pre-retirement programmes for those aged over 50 years, job-seeking support and ‘Start your own business' programmes. In accordance with the EU regulations, the restructuring aid for the Irish beneficiaries was drawn down in full and paid in two instalments in 2007 and 2008.

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