Current Affairs

Ireland’s Forests Saved?

Coillte, Éire
Coillte, Éire

A miracle on Kildare Street? A popular campaign in Ireland seems to have actually succeeded in getting the establishment powers that be to volte-face and drop a decision to sell off our state forests to the highest bidder as part of the Troika-dictated asset-stripping of the Irish nation. From The Journal:

“THE GOVERNMENT has formally abandoned plans to sell off the rights for the harvesting of trees in public forests.

Agriculture minister Simon Coveney this afternoon confirmed the Cabinet’s decision not to proceed with the sale of the Coillte harvesting rights.

The proposed sale of Coillte’s felling rights had been first proposed in a review of the sale of State assets, led by economist Colm McCarthy, in early 2011.

That report had estimated that Coillte had net assets worth €1.2 billion – but the proposal has drawn sustained criticism, particularly since it emerged that former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was chairing a private investment vehicle which was advocating a sale.

Coveney this afternoon said the Government would now consider a potential merger of Coillte and Bord na Móna, to create a single state body operating in the bio-energy and forestry sectors.

Independent TD Richard Boyd Barrett, a vocal campaigner against the sale, described the abandonment of the planned sale as “a stunning victory for people power and public protest”.

Independent Labour MEP Nessa Childers said the decision was a “victory for people power and grassroots activism”, and paid tribute to the Woodland League for organising a series of protests against the proposed sale.”

A victory for people power, then? Or is something else going on in the background? By all accounts the government found relatively few private companies that were interested in acquiring harvesting rights in Irish woodlands at the prices that were being sought. And none were particularly enthused about contract stipulations relating to long-term environmental management.

In 18 months time Coillte, the commercially based national forestry agency, will almost certainly be merged with Bord na Móna, the peat-production company. Together the two would make a far more attractive set-up for privatisation and acquirement by overseas investors. Call me cynical if you wish, but…

2 comments on “Ireland’s Forests Saved?

  1. an lorcánach

    true to form, sionnach, i’d be suspicious of any duplicitous ‘irish’ administration: besides, coillte is as maladministered as all incestuous and obscenely-paid heads of commercial semi’s – has no one wondered the decades’ old practice of this state paying over the odds in buying back our own harvested logs exported for processing to northern europe? – peadar

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    • Your last point is very true. There are some very strange “business models” at work in the Irish semi-states and related businesses. Instead of the hack and burn/asset stripping approach of the Troika and An Bord Sinp Nua a genuine examination of how we conduct state business would have yielded far greater cost savings.

      For instance what is the point of having the Irish Film Board, the Broadcasting Fund run by Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and RTÉ/TG4? Could these roles not be amalgamated? Ch4 and Film4 is surely the model to be followed. Otherwise we are pissing money away. And I have yet to meet anyone who can explain to me the need for Bord na gCon when Quinn and co are cutting back special needs provisions in our schools.

      Special interests and feathering the nests of cronies is the rule of Irish politics.

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