Fine Gael Kildare South TD, Martin Heydon has highlighted the potential of a return to sugar beet production in Ireland. Speaking at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis at the RDS on Saturday, he called on the Government to support the ongoing efforts to re-establish the industry.

Deputy Heydon explained how Ireland exited the production of sugar beet in 2006 following a decision by the then Government which was later found by the EU Court of Auditors to be flawed and based on out of date information.

“As an island nation, it was a mistake that has left our expanding food and drink companies paying a hefty price per tonne to import sugar and more importantly leads to difficulties for them in securing their supply of critical ingredients.

“The successful negotiation of the CAP by Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney TD, secured the hard fought for abolition of sugar beet quotas by 2017. This now paves the way for Ireland to re-commence sugar production and re-enter the markets.

“I want to see this Government support the ongoing efforts to re-establish this valuable industry. While the business model will need to stand on its own merits to be successful, there is much structural and technical support that can be provided by the departments of Enterprise and Agriculture as well as Enterprise Ireland. I am calling on the Government today to provide those supports.

“As a Government focused on job creation, we rightly support the smart economy and the roles of multinationals in the economy. But I believe strongly that we need to do all we can for indigenous Irish industry. There is no need to re-invent the wheel. We need to get back to basics and concentrate on what we are good at.

“Sugar production is one such area; we have the climate, the right soil type, the machinery manufacturers and critically the expertise of growers. Our expanding food and drink companies need it to sustain their development.

“This was an industry that the previous Fianna Fáil led Government lost. I want to see this Fine Gael led Government support the efforts to bring it back.”