As a condition of the IMF/ECB/EFSF “Troika” loan for the amount of €67.5bn Ireland must generate €2 billion from the disposal of State-owned assets and companies. As part of this, the government has plans to sell off the harvesting rights to the states forestry for the next 80 years.
The proposed €600 million that they will receive would pay off 0.4% of the national debt currently standing at €140bn, or to put it another way, 3 weeks loan interest on the national debt. The Irish Timber Council said the proposed sale could lead to the closure of all ten of Ireland’s sawmills with the loss of 2,500 jobs. Coillte the public body in charge of the forests which accounts for 7% of the landmass of Ireland employes over 12,000 people whose jobs are at risk. The amount raised would potentially be only half of what the country would lose in lost earnings, redundancies and costs of replacing the trees.
How ironic that Labour, one of the government parties looks to have backtracked on another promise. In their election manifesto (p36) , Labour had a commitment to forestry as follows