Privatisation of Coillte ‘more unlikely every day’

The privatisation of the State’s forestry agency, Coillte, “looks more un-likely every day”, according to Pat Rabbitte, the minister for communications.

He told the Dáil that Simon Coveney, the agriculture minister, was “probably agreed” with this statement but that “final conclusions have yet to be reached”.

He was speaking during question time on the chances of a bio-energy company being set up by Coillte and Bórd na Mona. Mr Rabbitte said there were “possibilities there”. Taoiseach Enda Kenny later said the Government “has not yet made a decision on the sale of State assets”.

Around 3,000 people took part in a protest in Wicklow over the weekend to protest against plans to sell the harvesting rights of the State-owned forests.

The Taoiseach came under questioning on the issue from Richard Boyd Barrett of the United Left Alliance who said he had met with the troika last week and “there was a commitment to sell off the harvesting rights to Coillte”.

“Correct,” said Mr Kenny. Mr Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach to clarity if the Government was going ahead with the sale or not, and if it was going head “when will it happen and when will the legislation come forward”.

Labour whip Emmet Stagg said it was his understanding that Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin had said he was “doubtful” the policy to sell harvesting rights could be implemented.

“There are real difficulties in implementing this policy and they are still being examined,” said Mr Stagg.

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