Government can’t see wood for the trees in Coillte-Gresham House deal
Speaking in the Dáil today, Labour leader and climate spokesperson Ivana Bacik characterised the Coillte-Gresham House deal as effectively facilitating the handing over of millions of euros of public money into the wallets of private investors and vulture funds.
Questioning Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, Deputy Bacik called for the reform of Ireland’s afforestation licensing system to make it a viable option for landowners in Ireland.
Deputy Bacik said:
“We in Labour are fundamentally opposed to the Coillte-Gresham House deal and were proud to stand with the Save Our Forests, Save Our Lands Coalition today outside Leinster House to demand that Government abandon this deal.
“This deal is wrong on many levels. At its root, it will be an arrangement which will facilitate the handing over of millions of euros of public money into the purse of private investors and vulture funds.
“It begs the question: what is the position of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Greens on forestry in Ireland? Because the reality is, the forestry sector has been in crisis for many years.
“We cannot meet our climate action targets without large-scale afforestation. The Citizens’ Assembly on biodiversity loss was clear: state-owned woodlands should be recognised and managed as a strategic long-term national asset for the benefit of common good.
“Ireland’s native and ancient forests were devastated by hundreds of years of unsustainable management. We must prevent further destruction by profit-hungry funds.
“The Government is meeting just one quarter of its own afforestation targets and the licensing system for the planting of trees is in total disarray. I understand that there are delays of two years for the approval of afforestation licences. The inadequacy of the Government’s plans is baffling.
“Labour is calling on Government to immediately abandon the deal and, given the European Commission’s scathing criticism of Ireland’s forestry policy in a letter dated from last year, outline the afforestation strategy that it proposes to pursue.”