DEPT OF AGRICULTURE BLOCKING RE-OPENING OF COOTEHILL POULTRY PLANT, NEW OWNER CLAIMS

9 August 2013 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By MICHAEL McDONNELL
michael@northern-standard.ie

THE buyer of a chicken processing plant in Cootehill has claimed that he is being prevented from re-opening the business — and thereby generating up to 100 direct jobs — by officials in the Department of Agriculture who are insisting that he pay a €120,000 “bond” in order to receive the required operating licence.

In response to queries made by this newspaper (see below) a Department of Agriculture official said applications for approval to operate meat-processing plants must meet the various requirements of the European Communities (Food and Feed Hygiene) Regulations 2009.

But the spokesperson declined to elaborate further, stating that the Department did not comment publicly on individual applications.

Through his company known as Lyntop Ltd, Mr Zahid Hussain purchased Co-operative Poultry Products Ltd at the beginning of January for an undisclosed sum that is understood to have been in the region of €1 million.

The acquisition had been welcomed at the time by the local chamber of commerce as well as political representatives, and the general hope was that some or all of the jobs at the factory could be retained under the new ownership.

Mr Hussain had indicated his intention to concentrate on producing food for the ‘halal’ market, which is aimed at the Islamic community and requires the killing process to be conducted in a specified manner.

Targeting the halal market would enable the company to avoid competing in an already saturated Irish poultry market, and instead seek to build up a healthy export trade, he had maintained.

The long-established Co-operative Poultry Products Ltd closed in October of last year with the loss of up on 90 jobs, including 70 production staff.

About 25 chicken growers, mainly from the Co Monaghan area (about one-third of whom were shareholders) were also left with no output for their product.

Speaking to the Northern Standard last week, Mr Hussain said he had hoped to have the factory — situated near Tanagh, about two miles outside Cootehill on the Monaghan road — up and running again by March of this year.

It would have generated 25 to 30 jobs immediately, with a further 25 when they started killing hens. After six or nine months the processing of broiler chickens would have been fully operational and the plant would have up on 100 employees.

This would also lead to indirect work for growers, catchers, transport operatives and packaging companies, he stressed.

But the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine was demanding that he pay a €120,000 bond before …

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