There were lots of things going on at the time of the closure of the Carlow sugar factory. The WTO didn’t think the EU sugar subsidies were fair to other countries like Brazil and Africa – so the EU had to do what it was told and reform the sugar regime. The EU were also going to abolish the quota system. At the same time the Irish beet farmers were getting the highest price per ton of beet in the EU at the time and the workers union were heavily organized and had good pay and pensions. Greencore had its own agenda. and were looking to the future. They proposed to close the Carlow factory – the costs to upgrade Carlow were too high they said and the sight was more valuable than Mallow. They would keep one factory going. But only for year before folding to the EU’s ‘voluntary redundancy scheme’ were countries that were less efficient were given an incentive to exit the market, The factory closed in March 2005 after nearly 80 years of production. It was a big shock; many would say it should never have happened.
Made with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the television license fee and sponsored by the Sugar Factory Display at Carlow County Museum and the local studies section at Carlow’s Central Library
Photo Programme 6 credit PL Curran