Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has been called on to supply greater detail and clarity as to the reasons why the application for the proposed new meat processing plant in Banagher, Co. Offaly, was rejected.

Making the calls, independent TD for Laois-Offaly Carol Nolan said that the decision of the Immigrant Investor Programme evaluation committee to deny support to the Banagher Chilling project could lead to a significant chilling effect being generated with respect to future investments within Offaly and indeed the wider midlands region.

“The proposed meat plant at Banagher represented a very welcome and much needed opening for job creation and the injection of vital investment funds within the county,” the TD said.

Now that this has been thrown into doubt because of the decision of the evaluation committee, there is a real risk that other potential investors will look at this example and reconsider any interest they may have had.

The independent TD said that the project had “wide-ranging and broad support”, not just from farmers but also from state bodies such as Bord Bia and Offaly County Council.

“That represented a level of agreement and collaboration that should be encouraged,” she added.

“The minister must press the evaluation committee, which ultimately determines the outcomes of applications under the Immigrant Investment Programme, to immediately engage with the level of local concern that has been generated by its almost incomprehensible decision.

Offaly – and indeed the entire midlands – cannot afford to let valuable job creation prospects like the Banagher project pass without a fight.

“We must have answers from the minister and from the committee on why this project has reached the current impasse,” concluded deputy Nolan.