Cork MEP calls on Kerry Group to close operations in Russia

An MEP from Cork has written a letter to an Irish food company called Kerry Group asking them to pull out of Russia because he believes continued operations there “legitimize the Russian administration”.

Speaking this week with RTE presenter Justin McCarthy, Fianna Fail MEP Billy Kelleher urged Kerry Group, a company in which he owns shares, to “suspend or close” their operations in order to “send a strong signal” to their shareholders, customers and the international Irish community.

He said that as a large multinational company, the shares of the Kerry Group are important and that as a public limited company he believes they have an “obligation” to reconsider their position on trade in Russia.

He also made these points to Edmund Scanlon, the companies’ chief executive, in an email on Friday telling him that in his opinion, the continuation of trade in Russia in any form “legitimizes the Russian administration and provides basically capacity, through taxation, etc. , for Russia to continue its illegal war.”

On air today, the MEP further said that all Irish businesses have a ‘moral obligation’ to ensure they are not contributing, ‘directly or indirectly’, to a ‘regime of war’ criminal”.

A spokesperson for the Kerry Group said it does not expect to make a profit or pay any related taxes in Russia, and if a profit is made it will be donated to humanitarian relief efforts.

They further insisted that the company had taken steps to “reduce our operations”.

“These measures include suspending capital investment in Russia and Belarus, halting all exports out of the region, and suspending production of our branded products in the region,” they added.

The company said it had donated to the World Food Program and would “continue to provide ongoing humanitarian support to the region through our MyCommunity initiative.”

MEP Kelleher said he would urge the company to go further and suspend operations in Russia entirely.

In the same program, Ukrainian politician Lesia Vasylenko said that all companies must stop trading with Russia, because business activity in Russia, according to her, will only serve to finance “bullets that then kill Ukrainian children “.

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