The government has been called on to conduct an immediate re-evaluation and impact assessment of the entire Just Transition process.

Making the calls, independent TD for Laois-Offaly Carol Nolan said that, “contrary to government commitments, citizens, workers, communities and enterprises were being left behind by the disruption created by the transition process”.

Expanding on this, the midlands TD said: “It is now obvious to anyone willing to look that the Just Transition process the midlands was promised is not going to materialise and that, in fact, it is only going to embed a further degree of regional and economic insecurity, particularly in counties like Offaly.

“We have already seen signs off this in the alarming indications that are now emerging with respect to the levels of matching funding that community groups and others are expected to raise for project submissions under the transition process.

What was initially expected to be 15% of funding raised by community groups has now jumped to 50%. What other shocks are in store?

The TD claimed that the recent decision by Bord na Móna to cease peat harvesting has “compounded this sense that the process is not going to deliver jobs”.

This, she added, “confirmed the concerns raised by the Just Transition Commissioner in his first report”.

“That report made it explicitly clear that workers, their families and their communities all had the reasonable and legitimate expectation that the use of peat as a fuel would be phased out by 2030.”

Highlighting that what was expected to be a 10-year transition period has now been reduced to a matter of months, deputy Nolan said:

Not only is this grossly unfair but it has also made it next to impossible to map out in a fair way the clear pathway for continued employment, re-skilling, redeployment, retirement and/or voluntary redundancy that the commissioner spoke about in his report.

“I am therefore calling on Bord na Móna to reassess its drastic decision to end all peat harvesting and to work toward ensuring that the transition process can take place over the initial 10-year period.

“We are in the middle of a pandemic. The last thing we need to be doing is speeding up job losses.

“I am also calling on all other midland TDs, especially those in Laois Offaly, to support this proposal.

“For the sake of the workers and their families we have to slow this reckless push toward a cliff-edge scenario in terms of employment losses and community harm,” deputy Nolan concluded.