Dáil Éireann - Volume 420 - 28 May, 1992
Adjournment Debate. - Ardee (Louth) Project.
Mr. Farrelly Mr. Farrelly
Mr. Farrelly: Thank you, Sir, for allowing me raise this matter. I will not delay the House for very long. The Minister is aware of the facts. The Government here and the IDA approved an application that they received for the development of a processing plant in Ardee, an investment of about £70 million. Three hundred jobs would initially be provided in the town and surrounding areas where many other jobs were promised by major potential employers but which did not materialise.
There are, in total, 200 farmers signed up for the processing, some at an advanced stage in the building of houses for producing a product for the factory. Many of these farmers require this alternative enterprise. I wonder what has happened taking into consideration (a) that the IDA approved this development, (b) that the Government gave it the go ahead and (c) that it went to Brussels where the majority of applications for FEOGA grants are accepted once Government approval has been obtained here. I want to know why we have not had full Government support for the project to ensure that this application was approved for the sake of the job potential and the farming potential. In real terms we are talking about 1,000 jobs in total connected with this application.
Have there been other influences on the Government here from other organisations in the business we are talking about putting pressure on Government  not to go ahead with this application? This has been a year in Brussels. I would like the Minister to allay fears. Is there a possibility that it could be reinvestigated and that the Government will approve it and seek approval in Brussels?
Mr. Browne (Wexford) Mr. Browne (Wexford)
Mr. Browne (Wexford): I would like to thank Deputy Farrelly for raising this and outline how we can get the project back on the rails. The application for FEOGA grant assistance in respect of a turkey slaughtering and processing facility at Ardee, County Louth, was selected by my Department for inclusion in an operational programme which was sent to the EC Commission in July 1991. Substantial aid was requested from the Commission for the project.
The Ardee investment included the provision of new slaughtering capacity for turkeys. Under Regulation (EEC) No. 866/90 and a Commission decision on selection criteria, it was necessary to provide sufficient evidence to the Commission to prove that this investment would not lead to an increase in overall turkey slaughtering capacity in this country. To comply with this requirement evidence was provided to the Commission to show that turkey slaughtering capacity, equivalent to that being created by the Ardee investment, was to be abandoned at another slaughtering plant. This was to be achieved by the removal of the turkey processing equipment from the latter premises under a legal agreement. However, after submission of the application for FEOGA assistance to the Commission developments took place which culminated in the appointment of a provisional liquidator and the subsequent sale of the facilities in the premises where capacity was to be abandoned.
The Commission became aware of these developments and sought legal advice on the matter. Their legal advice was that the evidence supplied to prove that equivalent slaughtering capacity was to be abandoned was no longer adequate.
Consequently the Commission, which  makes the final decision on the award of aid to investments, have stated that the investment applied for cannot be proposed by the Commission for a grant in the framework of Regulation (EEC) No. 866/90. In view of this, the application contained in the operational programme cannot be progressed any further. However, my Department, including myself, are in contact with the IDA and with the promoters of the proposed project with a view to seeing whether an alternative proposal, which would meet the Commission criteria, can be framed. Any such alternative would, of course, still be subject to availability of FEOGA funds and to a further Commission decision.
I should like to assure Deputy Farrelly that every effort is being made to try to get this project back into operation and to determine perhaps a different way of meeting the criteria. I certainly should like to know that the plant was up and running and was providing the jobs necessary in the area. I shall keep the Deputy informed as the developments progress.
Dáil Éireann 420 Adjournment Debate. Ardee (Louth) Project.