Out of public gaze it looks like a sell-off of our forestry assets is being maneuvered into place, and it’s happening without discussion – public opinion not invited.
Colm McCarthy’s 2009 An Bord Snip Nua report suggested that the state ‘review the operations of Coillte with a view to realising optimal return through rationalisation, asset disposal and, possibly, privatisation’.
Coillte confusingly already considers itself a private limited company despite the fact that the European Court of Justice in Case C-339/00 determined that it is a public enterprise wholly owned and controlled by the State.
A key step in the process appears to be the ITT (31/1/2011) seeking an economic evaluation of the public goods provided by the forest estate. The closing date for submission is 18/2/2011.
SF were quick to pick up on the threat last year, and the Labour Party and FG have subsequently ruled out the possible privatisation of the state forestry company.
Despite the political statements you can’t help feeling there’s no smoke without fire, and hopefully the politicians won’t need to be reminded of their (honourably patriotic) stance after the general election.
You can sign the petition here (or on the left) and I would urge you to do so – it might be public opinion that provides the last bastion of defence.