Wednesday, January 25, 2023

By Paul O’Malley

Councillors from the Ballina Municipal District have hit out at a proposed deal between the semi-state-owned forestry company Coillte and a British investment fund.

Thousands of acres of land in rural Ireland are expected to be sold to Gresham House as part of an afforestation deal with Coillte. The move has attracted a negative response across the political spectrum, including at last week’s meeting of the Ballina Municipal District.

Cllr John O’Hara said the sale of up to 123,000 acres to an overseas vulture fund was wrong and that selling the land to an Irish investor would be a better solution.

He said vulture funds have a history of buying surplus buildings and then selling them on for “triple profits”.

Cllr Annie May Reape said councillors had no control over the situation but noted that farmers will be priced out of purchasing land.

Cllr Reape called on her local Fianna Fáil party colleague and Minister for State Dara Calleary to intervene in the matter and also proposed that councillors write to all of the parties involved, including Coillte and the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, voicing their opposition to the deal.

Cllr Seamus Weir criticised the way that Coillte has approached the potential sale.

“There has been no word to the farmers, and they should be part of the solution here.”

Cllr Mark Duffy said Ireland should not be privatising the sales of its own land. He seconded Cllr Reape’s proposal to write to the relevant stakeholders.

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By Western People
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