Sugar beet ‘worth of revival’ – Kent

‘Badly missed as a useful break crop.’

Sligo News File.

ICSA president Patrick Kent has said plans by the Beet Ireland group to revive the sugar beet sector in Ireland “are worthy of careful consideration by tillage farmers” and the Government should look at helping “in every way possible.

He said:

Patrick Kent,
President ICSA

“The loss of sugar beet was a huge blow to the tillage sector and its effects are still evident to this day. Price per ton will be a critical issue to farmers but the potential to build a sustainable business for the long term is key.

“The growing demand for sugar is obviously a central consideration but modern beet processing provides many opportunities for diversified by-products. This would also be beneficial to the livestock sector with the ready availability of beet pulp nuts which have traditionally been a valued component of cattle rations.

“Sugar beet has been badly missed as a useful break crop. Tillage farmers are well aware of the need for crop rotation, but it is also a requirement for the CAP greening payment. Without sugar beet, the options for crop rotation are much more limited and make less sense in terms of soil management. It is also worth noting that modern
varieties of sugar beet are improving all the time in terms of yield. While current prices in the UK look weak, longer term it is very difficult to say where that market is going given Brexit uncertainty.

“However, a more significant factor may be the future of EU renewable energy policy. Negotiations around the RED II directive are moving into a critical phase at the EU parliament plenary session in the coming week (January 15) and it is vital that the Irish government and Irish MEPs support more not less biofuels in order to deliver the decarbonising of transport and as a way of supporting EU farmers.

“Another factor will be the blending rate for biofuels at a member state level. The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment is considering increasing the biofuel obligation rate from the current 8% and this, along with decisions in other member states, will potentially increase the demand for biofuels if the right call is made.

“Countries such as France produce biofuels from sugar beet, although farmers in the UK and mainland Europe more typically grow wheat, maize and rapeseed for biofuels.

“Either way, increased demand for biofuels will be critical in determining the outlook for European tillage farmers and this will indirectly influence the profitability of sugar beet in Ireland.”

More job losses in the North West as companies preparing to pull out of region

TD blasts Government neglect of the area.

Sligo News File.

The North West is set to suffer a further wave of job losses after three more companies have reportedly posted notices of their intention to pull out of the region.

The announcement comes amid growing public alarm about the worsening state of the area’s economy.

Marc MacSharry TD

Towns, including Sligo, are witnessing the widespread closure of commercial outlets and struggling trade activity across many of what were once thriving enterprises.

The gravity of the situation has been highlighted yet again by local TD Marc MacSharry, but it seems his calls for Government intervention is falling on deaf ears.

Reflecting the growing anger and frustration of the people, the Fianna Fail Deputy has charged that job opportunities are being deliberately restricted to the East coast.

Fine Gael has been neglecting the North West for the past six years, he said, and are “choosing instead to promote employment opportunities in the Greater Dublin Area and commuter counties.”

With as many as three companies set to wind up operations in locations in Sligo and Ballyshannon, MacSharry said that coming just after Christmas, the timing of the job losses it represents “is particularly difficult for the workers and families involved.

“I want to ensure the workers that I will be working with the various employment and government agencies to find alternative options for them.

“However, the government itself needs to step up to the mark.

Heather Humphreys, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation

Companies based in this region have been operating in a difficult trading environment for the past couple of years, and now they’re facing into a major Brexit challenge. The border region is likely to be the most severely affected, but we have yet to see any concrete plans from the government about how it intends to support businesses here.

“The Taoiseach and his government colleagues are fond of making big announcements but have failed to follow up on delivery. This focus on spin over substance is wearing thin and people want to see infrastructural and economic investment in this region.

“The North West has been left behind for too long.

“I want to see a fully resourced strategic plan for this area to ensure that this region can reach its true potential,” he said


Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein backing proposed legislation to allow thousands of refugees to resettle in Ireland.

Direct provision system already under ‘ferocious pressure.’

Minister reveals refugee  centres ‘filling up very fast.’

Application for seventy relatives to join family already here as refugees.

Sligo News File

Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein are among the parties backing measures to enable thousands of refugees to enter the State.

The International Protection (Family Reunification) (Amendment) Bill moved by Independent Senators Colette Kelleher, Lynn Ruane, Alice Mary Higgins and others – has been introduced as the number of people without homes here has shot to an all-time high.

According to a Department of Housing report, 5,524 adults and 3,333 children were accessing emergency accommodation services in November, a substantial increase in the figures for October. In December, the number of people in emergency accommodation  had grown to more than 7,000.

The Senate amendment to the International Protection (Family Reunification) Bill states that its purpose is to “provide for a refugee or a person eligible for subsidiary protection to apply for members of their family, including a grandparent, parent, brother, sister, child, grandchild, ward or guardian, to enter and reside in the State.”

There are concerns that the measure will facilitate the movement of some tens of thousands of refugee relatives to Ireland within a relatively short space of time, piling even more pressure on the country’s already over-stretched housing services, hospitals and schools.

Stating that the Government opposed the amendment, Minister of State for Justice David Stanton told the Seanad that the refugee direct provision system was under “ferocious pressure” and direct provision centres were “filling up very fast.”

He said, “As the Government informed the House in July, the average number of family members applied for under the family reunification provisions of the Refugee Act was 20, and the largest application was for over 70 family members.

“The admission of so many people would have significant and unquantifiable impacts on the provision of housing, health care, education, welfare payments and other State supports. The financial impacts of this proposal are not contemplated in the Bill,” he said.

Senator David Norris said it beggared belief that “large numbers of people are applying to be joined by 70 family members.”

Norris told senators he had received a communication from Active Retirement Ireland which said it strongly supported the Bill “because it recognises the role of grandparents  in families.”

Meanwhile plans to allow the present population of asylum seekers to take up employment, become self-employed or access training are currently under consideration. The government is also set to review the country’s employment permit system with the aim of substantially increasing the number of employment permits to enable low-skilled foreign workers to work in some sectors of the economy.

The development, while welcomed in some business representatives, could have serious implications for the employment prospects and pay rates of young Irish job seekers, particularly in the North West of the State where government support for the region’s economic health has been sparse in the extreme.

A trade union leader has claimed that currently tens of thousands of workers in Ireland are on “exploitive” zero-hour contracts

TDs in Sligo – Leitrim include Fianna Fail’s Eamonn Scanlon, party spokesman on employment and small business, and Marc MacSharry; Martin Kenny, Sinn Fein, and Tony McLoughlin, assistant whip to the Fine Gael Party.