Dáil Éireann - Volume 387 - 23 February, 1989

Written Answers. - Sugar Processing Plant Takeover.

36. Mr. P. O'Malley asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food whether the potential for a serious conflict of [1498] interest was brought to his attention arising out of the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 113 of 29 November 1988 and which was subsequently confirmed by the Deputy concerned in an announcement on 27 January 1989; whether he discussed this matter with the Deputy, any member of the Government or his Department's officials prior to 27 January 1989; if not, the reason; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): The written question from the Deputy on 29 November was as follows “to ask the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he has had any discussions or negotiations with representatives of a company (details supplied) regarding the possible take-over by that company of one of the three Siúicre Éireann Cpt sugar processing plants on condition that part of the Irish sugar quota will be made available to that company; and if he will make a statement on the matter”.

My written reply was “I have had no such discussions or negotiations”.

As the record shows, the Deputy's question did not make any suggestion, implicit or explicit, in regard to a potential for a serious conflict of interest on the part of the Deputy named in the details supplied. Neither was it brought to my attention in any way as suggested. My reply was a factual reply to a precise and specific question.

The text of the question quoted above also demonstrates that a statement made by a Deputy in this House on 21 February purporting to quote the above question of 29 November as “calling his attention to the named Deputy's chairmanship of Food Industries plc, and his chairmanship of the Joint Committee of State-Sponsored Bodies and asking for his views on any possible difficulties that might arise in relation to that and asking if he had any discussions with anybody arising out of that matter” was without any foundation.

The record also indicates that a further statement from another Deputy on 21 February purporting to quote the said question as “asked the Minister was he [1499] aware of the potential conflict of interest” was also without any foundation.

In the light of these facts the occasion did not arise for any discussions of the kind referred to in the question.