Mackinnon report ‘buried’ – Forest Industries Ireland

A senior representative of Forest Industries Ireland (FII) – the Ibec group that represents the forestry sector – has said that he believes that the Mackinnon report on the Irish forestry sector has been “buried”.

The Mackinnon report was released last November and was drawn up by James Mackinnon CBE, a former senior planner with the Scottish government. The report made several recommendations to ensure that the forestry sector was “fit for purpose”, particularly in the process for approving afforestation proposals.

However, speaking to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine last week, Peter O’Brien, the chairman of FII’s Forestry Group, said: “I think this report has been buried, to be perfectly honest with you. I really do.

I know that’s a possibly inflammatory comment, but it’s going on too long.

O’Brien was responding to a question form the Labour Party’s spokesperson Seán Sherlock, who had asked the FII representative: “Is it your impression now that it is the intention of the [Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine] to lessen that report, or the impact of that report in some way or not give it its due regard? Is it a view now that the Mackinnon report has somehow ended up on a shelf and will gather dust?”

Deputy Sherlock had also said it was “worrying” that a chairperson has not yet been appointed to lead the implementation of the Mackinnon report’s recommendations.

On that point, the FII’s O’Brien said: “That person was identified nine months ago, or eight months ago, and hasn’t been appointed. So to me that’s just not good enough.”

Mark McCauley, the director of FII, was also at the committee meeting, where he said (again in answer to deputy Sherlock): “I just don’t know whether ‘Mackinnon’ is alive and well or not.”

During his contribution in the committee meeting, Cork East TD Sherlock also said: “There was a lot of mention made of the Mackinnon report during the recent Forestry Bill deliberations… We didn’t get very far on the committee stage of that bill. Certainly it was some of the intention to speak more comprehensively to the 22 recommendations in it…but unfortunately that did not happen.”