Sinn Féin spokesperson for agriculture Matt Carthy TD has called on government to instruct Coillte to stop its “scandalous” proposed joint venture with UK investment firm Gresham House “immediately”.

Carthy also insisted that state funds should not be used to facilitate the deal which he described as enabling a “land-grab”.

Blaming the Government’s allowing of the “near entire collapse of Irish forestry”, the Cavan- Monaghan TD said the now controversial deal is being used to pick up the slack of missed afforestation targets.


“Under a Fianna Fáil Minister and a Green Party Minister of State, forestry outputs have got worse since this government came to office, rather than better.

“Rather than engage with the forestry and timber sector, with farmers and local communities to address the core issues that have led to the current disfunction, Ministers have organised photo calls and press conferences and commissioned report after report. All the while, the crisis in forestry has intensified.

The Gresham House deal is enabling a "land grab", says Sinn Féin.

“Now, in an all-too-familiar story, the answer of this government appears to be to facilitate the sale of thousands of hectares of Irish land to a British investment vehicle,” Carthy said during a Dáil debate on the Climate Action Plan on Wednesday.

Government knowledge

The Sinn Féin TD suggested that Minister of State Pippa Hackett knew as far back as March 2021 that Coillte planned to use an investment firm such as Gresham House to acquire lands.

“Yet, following the recent formal announcement by Coillte of their proposed arrangement with the Gresham House fund, ministers have pretended that they are somehow observers.

“But the Minister for Agriculture is the shareholder, on behalf of the Irish people, in Coillte. He can, and he should, instruct Coillte to immediately stall this plan.

“And government can and should state categorically that will not permit the use of €2bn of Irish taxpayers money to be used to facilitate this land-grab,” he said.

Corporate profit

Carthy claimed that the deal is not about climate or forestry.

“Gresham House has confirmed that 8,000 hectares of their Irish portfolio will be existing forestry land, as little as 3,000 hectares will bare land for new tree-planting. For Gresham House, this venture is simply about corporate profit,” he said.

“A good forestry policy is one that delivers for the environment, delivers for communities and delivers for local economies.

“The Coillte joint venture with Gresham House will deliver in none of those areas, just as this government have delivered in none of those areas,” he said.

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