June 22, 2023
Continued absence of Forestry Programme ‘outrageous’ – Claire Kerrane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Claire Kerrane TD, has called on Government to urgently address ongoing delays to the new Forestry Programme describing its absence more than half way through the year as “outrageous”.

Earlier this week, Minister McConalogue stated that his Department had received correspondence regarding their application to the European Commission for State Aid to fund the Forestry Programme 2023-2027.

The Minister stated that his Department will respond to this correspondence “in as efficient a timeframe as possible”. This further delay comes following the absence of a new Forestry Programme since the end of 2022.

Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:

“We are more than half way through 2023 and there is still no Forestry Programme in sight.

“The Minister’s comments this week suggest that we are now to expect further delays as the European Commission have submitted a query about his Department’s application for State Aid.

“The Forestry sector had been assured that the application took time to submit in the first place to ensure it was got right to avoid such delays. Clearly, that was a failure. 

“While the Commission of course must review the application for State Aid in full, the blame lies with the Ministers in prolonging these delays due to their failure to submit the application on time. 

“We are now in a situation where there is no timeframe for when the new Programme will be in place. At the same time, confidence amongst farmers and foresters in the sector is at an all-time low. 

“I recently submitted a Freedom of Information request on the Department’s correspondence with the Commission about the Forestry Programme. The information I received dates back to July 2022 and here we are, almost a year later, with no progress. 

“Despite this, there seems to be no urgency on the matter from either Minister. These delays are unacceptable.

“It is not known if the additional information sought has been submitted yet, but Minister should have his Department respond to queries from the Commission immediately and as an absolute priority.

“The Government have dragged their feet on Forestry and now here are facing another year of missed targets in an area where Ireland should and could be leading.”

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