Budget measure on BNM an ‘act of economic fraud’

The measures announced in Budget 2020 relating to Bord na Móna and job losses in the midlands have been heavily criticised by one independent TD.

Michael Fitzmaurice, a TD for Roscommon-Galway, slammed the announcement from Finance Minister Pachal Donohoe as “an act of economic fraud”, and labelled the Government “indifferent” to the situation.

“While it is billed as an increase of 250%, €5 million for bog rehabilitation is little more than tokenism. It is also difficult to see where jobs will be created through the €20 million energy efficiency scheme targeted at homes in the region,” he argued.

€6 million has been put aside for the Just Transition Fund, with local communities to have a key say in how it is spent. But will this cover every region impacted by the job closures?

Fitzmaurice said that “the least we expected” was a package to rescue and redevelop Bord na Móna – but that the semi-state body has “been cast aside and expected to quietly close each of its plants after having supported thousands of families in the midlands in recent decades”.

“This Government has failed to come up with a comprehensive, joined-up plan to save jobs that were meant to remain in place until at least 2027,” he added.

The TD also made the argument that: “Under this Fine Gael led Government, jobs outside the capital do not hold the same weight as those inside the M50.

If Bord na Móna was a new fashionable digital company, there would be ministers and the Taoiseach racing down to offer assurances and to hold hands.

“This Government appears to be incapable of understanding that rural, blue-collar jobs are important too. Their failure to chart a new direction will not be forgotten,” Fitzmaurice warned.

“Yesterday’s announcement is a political con-job designed to give cover to frightened Fine Gael backbenchers and isolated Independent Alliance ministers,” he went on to claim.

He argued that the region needed to see the creation of around 2,000 jobs to offset the Bord na Móna redundancies, rather than the 400 to 500 promised in the budget.

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