Taoiseach says An Taisce should not appeal court decision on cheese factory

Green Party MEP expresses concern over calls saying undue pressure is inappropriate

“I would appeal that there would be no further appeals against this project now given the fact that courts have ruled very clearly in relation to it and that many, many jobs depend on it,” Micheál Martin said.  Photograph: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire

“I would appeal that there would be no further appeals against this project now given the fact that courts have ruled very clearly in relation to it and that many, many jobs depend on it,” Micheál Martin said. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire

 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said An Taisce should not appeal a High Court decision backing the development of a €140 million cheese plant, prompting members of the Green Party to come out in support of the heritage organisation.

The High Court’s recent decision in favour of the Belview plant in the south of Co Kilkenny, should see the joint venture between Glanbia and Dutch cheesemakers Royal A-Ware proceed.

However An Taisce, which has made several environmental objections to the plan, is set to appeal.

Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday, the Taoiseach said the project was of “immense economic importance” to both the industry and the region.

“I would appeal that there would be no further appeals against this project now given the fact that courts have ruled very clearly in relation to it and that many, many jobs depend on it,” he said.

He said the move would create unnecessary tensions and division, however his comments may have done just that with his coalition partners.

In a statement shortly afterwards, Green Party MEP Ciaran Cuffe said he was concerned by calls for An Taisce not to appeal the decision.

Although making no direct reference to the Taoiseach, he said environmental assessment in planning matters was fundamental to both EU and Irish environmental law.

“These laws are designed to protect our environment. It is entirely appropriate to appeal such matters of public importance and in the public interest,” he said.

“No one sector is entitled to a free ride. Placing undue pressure on an organisation that acts in the public interest is entirely inappropriate.”

An Taisce also responded to the Taoiseach’s comments. Speaking on RTE’s Drivetime programme, its natural environment officer Dr Elaine McGoff described it as a “highly unusual move by the Taoiseach”.

“We respect that politicians have a view but we would ask that the politicians let us do our job and let judicial process take its course,” she said.

On Wednesday morning, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said such matters were best left to the legal process. “Politicians should leave it to play out,” the Green Party TD told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland programme.