Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy TD, has said the revelation that government issued a Shareholder Letter of Expectation to Coillte last June directing the company to ‘develop initiatives’ including participation in ‘a subsidiary or partnership enterprise’ has exposed their complicity in the joint venture with British Investment Fund, Gresham House.
Speaking during Tuesday’s debate on the Sinn Féin motion calling for the joint venture to be stopped, Deputy Carthy said that the letter of expectation showed that not only were the government aware of Coillte’s plans, but they had provided the mandate for the venture to be finalised.
Teachta Carthy said:
“Not only were government aware of Coillte’s plans to enter into a joint venture with a British investment fund, they gave them a mandate, through a shareholder letter of expectation, to seal the deal.
“According to text buried in a Parliamentary Question response received by me, Minister McConalogue has confirmed that a Shareholder Letter of Expectation was issued to Coillte on 2nd June 2022 which included a direction to Coillte to ‘develop initiatives to support and realise the planting of such forests to a meaningful scale in the years ahead, whether as part of their core business or as participants in a subsidiary or partnership enterprise’.
“It is clear that this shareholder letter of expectation was the government go-ahead to Coillte to pursue an approach that led to the Gresham House deal.
“There are now serious questions for government who, up until now, have suggested that Coillte pursued this joint venture independent from government.
“These questions include precisely who in government was aware of the letter of expectation and whether a new letter will now issue to ensure that Coillte do not pursue further ventures of this kind.
“The Sinn Féin motion before the Dáil this week calls on government to instruct Coillte to stop the Gresham House deal. The deal is bad for the environment, for communities and for farmers; it will see tens of millions of Irish taxpayers euro being used to subsidise a land-grab by a British investment fund.
“It is not good enough for government to simply not oppose our motion. They must act on it.”