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CALL FOR AN INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO COILLTE PUBLIC FOREST ASSET STRIPPING . December 18, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
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This is a very interesting statement, and thanks to JL for passing it on. Fair dues too to Maureen O’Sullivan for taking up the issue.

WOODLAND LEAGUE PRESS RELEASE DECEMBER 18 2012.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.

CALL FOR AN INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO COILLTE PUBLIC FOREST ASSET STRIPPING .

It is almost ironic that as we put up our Christmas trees , Coillte the State forestry board tasked with managing 1.2 million acres of public forests as well as increasing our low average tree cover , is selling off another lot of public forestry property, 1000 acres in Donegal.

In this hour of national need, with the government borrowing €45 million per day, the economy on its knees, money being taken from children and carers, the Woodland league are calling for a rigorous public inquiry into Coillte, the removal of its protected and secret status, and the opening up of its books from the time it was set up in 1989 till the present day.

Since it was created in 1989 by, Bertie Ahern , Ray Burke , and co , Coillte has sold over 40,000 acres of Public Forest lands, into private ownership, with zero accountability. Most of the sales have gone to IFORUT ( Irish Forest Unit Trust ) an umbrella body for most pension funds in Ireland, of which, Coillte happen to be partners, with the failed banks, AIB, and Bank of Ireland. Coillte bought into IFORUT using 15 million punts worth of Public forests as equity, in 1994. Incidentally, IFORUT’s forest portfolio consists of approx 40,000 acres, matching what Coillte have sold.

In 22 years Coillte have amassed profits of over €400 million paid virtually no dividends to the State, and in 2011 paid its CEO €473,000, in spite of the cap on semi state CEO salaries. When privatisation of forests was demanded by the IMF in 2009, Coillte sold €33 million of forests , In 2010 it was €38 million and for 2011 the figure was €37 million, all sold to IFORUT.

A Woodland league spokesperson, Andrew St Ledger said “ Over a three year period, a staggering €108 million worth of public property has been privatised, under the noses of the two main Coillte shareholders, Michael Noonan and Simon Coveney. These public asset transfers, relate to the paying of a €178 million pension fund deficit accumulated by Coillte in 2009. Serious questions need to be asked as to how this blatant public asset stripping was allowed to happen, where was the regulatory authority and corporate governance to safeguard the public interest and common good. ”

All further sales of public forests and harvesting rights must be halted immediately until a full investigation is conducted into the affairs of Coillte and IFORUT its shadowy accomplice, regarding these matters of extreme public importance.

Visit our website for more information at http://www.woodlandleague.org
Save Ireland’s Forests petition http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/help-save-irelands-forests/
Contact Andrew St. Ledger (P.R.O. The Woodland League) on 0879933157, or e-mail stledgerwood@gmail.com

http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2010/11/23/00221.asp

Woodland League questions about forestry submitted in the Dail at end
of 2010 by Maureen O’ Sullivan Independent TD, regards total forestry sold by Coillte.

http://www.iforut.ie/reports/IForUTreport10.pdf

IFORUT 2010 annual report, regards total forestry assets

http://www.forestry-fund.com/who-we-are/who-we-are.html

Bertie Aherns International Forestry Fund, Irish acquisitions.

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Comments»

1. CL - December 19, 2012

‘The privatisation of Coillte has caused little debate but that too may be about to change. Sean Sherlock, Labour Party spokesperson for agriculture and food, said last week: ”Coillte is one of the biggest landowners in the State and the notion that we could sell off all of this land, lock stock and barrel, should not be countenanced.”

The Cork deputy asked: ”Do we really want to end up in a situation where this for-profit company could turn around and do whatever it feels like with a natural resource that rightly belongs to the Irish people, including many of our forests, rivers and lakes?”’-This was said by Mr. Sherlock in Jan, ’11
http://www.farmersjournal.ie/site/farming-Labour-and-Fine-Gael-oppose-privatisation-of-Coillte-forests-12449.html

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steve white - December 19, 2012

so they’ll sell the forestry rights and all the bad things will still happen but they’ll claim to have never sold it off, labour’s way

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2. Joe - December 19, 2012

IMPACT are campaigning on this as well – below from their website http://www.saveourforests.ie.

28 November 2012

Sale of Coillte forests will restrict public access and place up to 12,000 Irish jobs at risk

Government plans to sell the rights to harvest Coillte forests for up to 80 years will “destroy the character and quality of Irish forests and limit countryside access for walkers, cyclists, school groups and the general public,” according a new report launched today (Thursday). Save Our Forests: The social, economic and environmental case against selling Coillte assets also says the plans could jeopardise up to 12,000 jobs in the Irish forest products sector, which is currently worth €2.2 billion a year including €286 million in exports.

Today’s launch, by the Coillte Branch of IMPACT trade union, was attended by representative groups including Mountaineering Ireland, the Irish Orienteering Association, the Society of Irish Foresters and the Woodland League, along with representatives of teachers concerned at the potential impact on school projects and events. IMPACT also launched a campaign website – http://www.saveourforests.ie – and said it would work with interested organisations to alert the public to the issue and convince the Government to change course.

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3. Sarah Jane Brennan - February 3, 2013

This exemplifies, on many levels, what is so very wrong with this country. A culture of impunity often overpowers the very foundations of transparency and accountability in this state. Thank you for posting this. Did it garner much mainstream media attention?

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CL - February 3, 2013

Gene Kerrigan covers this issue today, in his own inimitable style.
“The set of policies that created the disaster is being harnessed in an attempt to fix it, with predictable results…
One of the outfits reported to be interested in buying the harvesting rights to our forests is something called the Forestry International Fund…
the outfit managing the fund had a new chairman – a certain Bertie Ahern.”
http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/gene-kerrigan/gene-kerrigan-our-leaders-cant-see-wood-for-the-trees-3375645.html

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4. Sarah Jane Brennan - February 3, 2013
5. twigs - February 3, 2013

Why was Eamon Ryan saying he would be in favour of selling (some?) forests.
Has he stated what he thinks should be sold?
[on Primetime, Jan.'13].

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Edward Stevenson - April 24, 2013

The position of the Green Party seems impossible to pin down.

Did they pick up a bad habit while in Coalition whereby they are most comfortable on each and every side of the fence??

Strip the asset or develop and manage it. One or the other, please!!

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6. Edward Stevenson - April 24, 2013
7. Edward Stevenson - April 24, 2013

Should have also mentioned the event on Sunday upcoming. Avondale House, Wicklow

http://www.woodlandleague.org/

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