The European Union decided to regulate the sugar industry and Ireland lost an historic link.
The sugar beet industry dated back to the early days of the Republic, when Dev decided that sugar production by the Irish Free State was the way to get business moving in the periphery of the island. Sugar beet production became a part of Ireland's story, even after the factory was under the control of Greencore.
Then along came the EU and the last sugar beet processing plant was shuttered in Mallow, devestating not only the workers who turned beets into sweets, but the farmers who grew the beets. Greencore ended up with plenty of cash to compensate them for the inconvenience, while the workers got a pittance.
The Saw Doctors memorialized the loss in this song.
Turns out that the Mallow plant didn't need to be closed after all. The employees didn't need to be made redundant.
Sorry. Our bad, says the EU.
To make matters worse, the factory was torn down at the height of the property boom. Emptied land that was supposed to be turned into gold for the people of Mallow is just that. Empty land. The boom went bust and the factory site is waste ground.
There is no factory to fire up now that the EU has admitted to its mistake. The farmers who used to grow sugar beets have found other crops to cultivate, if they haven't gone out of farming altogether.
To all those who lost their jobs at the beet factory and have been unable to find new work, the European Union would like to issue a most humble apology.
Pity that all the apologizing in the world won't pay the mortgage or put food on the table.