THE pet food company founded by former taoiseach Albert Reynolds and co-owned by Larry Goodman is one of the largest recipients of state grants from Enterprise Ireland (EI), according to new figures.
The €1m received by Longford's C&D Foods is just one of several payments in 2008 to firms associated with some of the country's wealthiest businessmen, such as Seán Quinn, Dermot Desmond and Michael O'Leary.
But businesses linked to Goodman's low-profile beef processing rivals, brothers Michael and Peter Queally, appear to have fared best in terms of funding. Various subsidiaries of their Arrow Group, which includes Dawn Meats, received over €2.5m in grants from EI last year.
Outside the food sector, the Quinn Group continues to receive substantial state assistance with almost €812,000 going to businesses backed by Seán Quinn, who has been reported to be Ireland's richest man. The businesses involved included Quinn Insurance, the most successful portion of the Cavan businessman's empire.
Fellow billionaire Dermot Desmond's Daon Group, which develops biometric security systems, received €416,250 to support its work. The company is part of the consortium working on the EU's proposed biometric matching system, which will store the fingerprints of up to 70 million people.
Another recipient of EI grant aid in 2008 was Philip Lynch's One51 group, which received over €716,000 for its plastics manufacturing arm.
Meanwhile, low-fares airline Ryanair, which was pushing yet again last week for the abolition of state aid for regional air services, continues to receive EI payments for its website. It received €29,550 in 2008, slightly less than the previous year.
An Enterprise Ireland spokeswoman told the Sunday Tribune that despite the success of the businesses highlighted by this newspaper, they were fully entitled to state support.
"As long as a company is exporting and providing jobs to the state, Enterprise Ireland would support them. Enterprise Ireland's role is to drive exports and R&D in indigenous companies and if a company does this, they are entitled to financial support," she said.