Review of funds given to An Taisce demanded at Fianna Fáil party meeting

Planned appeal over €140 million cheese plant labelled ‘treasonous’ by one TD

An Taisce is  set to appeal in the courts against planning permission granted for a €140 million Glanbia cheese plant in Co Kilkenny. A Glanbia plant in Idaho, US, is pictured above.

An Taisce is set to appeal in the courts against planning permission granted for a €140 million Glanbia cheese plant in Co Kilkenny. A Glanbia plant in Idaho, US, is pictured above.

 

An Taisce, the State’s heritage and conservation body, has been described as “treasonous” at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday evening.

The group, which is set to appeal in the courts against planning permission granted for a €140 million plant in Co Kilkenny, has defended itself against strong criticism over its approach in recent days.

The cheese plant, proposed for Belview in the south of Co Kilkenny, is a joint venture between Glanbia and Dutch cheesemakers Royal A-Ware, but An Taisce has made several objections to the plan, saying the new facility and the increased agricultural activity needed to support it would increase carbon emissions and damage water quality.

Jackie Cahill, Fianna Fáil TD for Tipperary, said the group, which is partially state-funded has been “treasonous in their actions”, sources at the parliamentary party meeting said on Wednesday. He added that the group had no understanding or regard for the agricultural sector, and demanded a full review of public funds given to it.

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin told the meeting that Glanbia is a “symptom of a wider issue of the planning system”, and said challenges can create division “when we are trying to progress climate action measures”.

The meeting also heard strong criticism of Sinn Féin from the Taoiseach, who told his parliamentary party colleagues that by his research, the party has opposed the construction of over 5,000 homes in the last five years, and argued that the level of opposition is making the housing crisis worse. He told the meeting the Government plan was about “substance and delivery,” sources said.

However, he came under criticism from backbencher Marc MacSharry, who said he should declare a housing emergency and set targets for each local authority. The Sligo-Leitrim TD said the Government’s policies were “Fine Gael lite”, and tantamount to window dressing “when we need to renovate the whole house”.

The Taoiseach told the meeting they were “working on dealing with the issues of institutional investors competing with first time buyers”.

“We don’t have the luxury of opposing everything and sloganeering,” he said, telling the meeting that Sinn Féin do that “time and time again”.

“If we are serious we need to facilitate and drive on with supply”.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly also indicated “100 per cent” support for a motion from Cavan-Monaghan TD Niamh Smyth calling for a public health campaign around menopause, and requesting supports for the emotional, physical and mental health of women approaching and experiencing menopause.

She and others, including the Taoiseach, commended recent broadcasts by Joe Duffy on RTÉ’s Liveline programme on the topic. Ms Smyth told the meeting that women’s testimony was a “damning indictment of the State’s attitude and response to women’s reproductive health.”

Mr Martin supported Ms Smyth’s motion on a campaign on menopause.

Mr Donnelly, sources said, also told the meeting that there was a need for maternity units to be fully accessible and had asked for reports from all 19 units on their policies - and was expecting a report tonight from the HSE on the issue.

The Taoiseach said he welcomed the result of the Ballymurphy inquest, and paid tribute to the families involved in the campaign. He reiterated his words to cabinet on Tuesday, saying housing had to be treated as a whole of Government issue, similarly to Covid and Brexit.