‘Grave doubts’ were voiced over Goodman beef sector jobs plan

Comments appear as civil servants examine Programme for National Recovery pledges

Larry Goodman with Charles Haughey and Denis Buckley at the Fianna Fail National Business Conference in January 1987

Larry Goodman with Charles Haughey and Denis Buckley at the Fianna Fail National Business Conference in January 1987

 

Officials expressed “grave doubts” about the realism of a 1,000 jobs target on a major project to develop the Irish beef sector, under a plan centred on the group owned by businessman Larry Goodman.

Comments on the Haughey government’s draft economic plan – later signed off as the Programme for National Recovery – reveal comments from finance officials who would oversee each vote group.

The economic plan, which records on file indicate had been agreed by the social partners by October 6th, said the beef industry should provide 1,000 jobs over five years.

The major project was the Goodman International development plan, which “it is claimed will lead to 664 permanent and 500 seasonal jobs by 1992”.

“Given the increasing automation of slaughtering plants and even making due allowance for more jobs due to increased processing, we have grave doubts on the realism of the jobs targets,” a comment on the proposal read.

On the cost of the beef development plan, the officials said that if the full project went ahead, the IDA was committed to £25 million in capital grants and £5 million in redeemable preference shares.

The exchequer exposure arising from tax relief arrangements would be about £20 million, the note said.

It added that the deletion of the “net of grant” provision in the plan would “result in a lower tax charge for Mr Goodman of £2.5 million-£12.5 million over the next five years.

Fianna Fáil policy

The Goodman organisation was chosen as the hub around which Fianna Fáil had built its development policy for the food industry, including beef, dairying and sugar.

The beef tribunal later examined government funding commitments and other aspects of Mr Goodman’s business.

Mr Goodman had met Mr Haughey at his home in Abbeville in May 1987 and had a long private discussion with him. They had three further such meetings in 1987, two in 1988 and two more in 1989.

The tribunal report said there was no evidence of any wrongdoing by either Mr Haughey or Mr Goodman connected with any of the meetings, and it found nothing to suggest that the granting of State benefits to Mr Goodman in this period was motivated by any kind of personal or political favouritism.

At the beef tribunal, Mr Goodman said he saw every meeting with a powerful politician as an opportunity to extract advantage and that he had “fairly liberal access” to ministers at this time, which gave him a competitive edge in dealing with rival companies.