Sinn Féin’s Donegal TD, Deputy Pearse Doherty, has criticised the controversial forestry deal between Coillte and British asset managers Gresham House which will see 12,000 acres of forestry sold to British foreign investors.
Hundreds of people protested outside Leinster house on Friday in opposition to the deal.
Speaking after the government voted down a Sinn Féin motion to end the venture, Teachta Doherty said: “The Sinn Féin motion before the Dáil called on government to instruct Coillte to stop the Gresham House deal.
“It is hugely disappointing that local TDs in Donegal did not support the motion to put a stop to a deal that is bad for the environment, for communities and for farmers; it will see tens of millions of Irish taxpayer’s money being used to subsidise a land-grab by a British investment fund.”
Deputy Doherty said that a letter issued by the government showed not only was government aware of Coillte’s plans, but that they provided the mandate for the venture to be finalised.
He said: “Not only were government aware of Coillte’s plans to enter into this joint venture with a British investment fund, they gave them a mandate to seal the deal.
“According to text received by Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy, Minister McConalogue confirmed that a Shareholder Letter of Expectation was issued to Coillte in June last year which included a direction to Coillte to consider private sector participants.
“It is clear that this letter was the government giving a go-ahead for 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.
“We need to know who in government was aware of the letter.
“The government need to act and stop this bad deal from going ahead.”