A local area representative and publican in Lanesboro, Co. Longford, has indicated this week how disappointed workers and residents of the area are in Bord na Móna over the company’s decision to axe 150 jobs in the locality.

Fine Gael’s councillor Gerald Farrell was speaking to AgriLand at the protest on Monday, July 22, where over 300 people including employees, their families and members of the south Longford community walked in unity and solidarity through the main street of Lanesboro.

This is a town where Bord na Móna has been a fixture for over 60 years.

Hundreds gathered in Lanesboro on Monday for the protest by Bord na Móna workers

The aim of the protest was to highlight the anger and sense of injustice that is being felt across the county over the job losses in south Longford.

‘A need to look after people’

Meanwhile, Farrell pointed to the company’s announcement two weeks ago when it stated – that as a direct result of the shutdown of the Lough Ree Power Station by ESB – it had been forced to lay off a large number of workers including 78 seasonal employees and 72 permanent staff.

Also Read: Hundreds march in opposition to Bord na Móna job losses

The station was closed on Friday, July 5, by ESB after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiated legal proceedings because it deemed the temperature of the cooling water – being discharged from the facility into the river – to be too high.

“At the end of the day we know that the power station is not shutting down [indefinitely],” Farrell said.

“Bord na Móna is a semi-state company that needs to look after its employees.

The Lough Ree Power Station in Lanesboro

“It’s not right what is going on; Bord na Móna has handled this whole situation very, very poorly.”

‘Not making sense’

Meanwhile, the local publican pointed to the negative impact the job losses will have on the local economy before highlighting the importance of what he described as “an incredible show of support” for the Bord na Móna employees at Monday’s protest.

The turnout here and the support for the workers is massive.

He added: “It’s not a good day at all for the workers at Bord na Móna nor is it a good day for the town of Lanesboro either.

“The decision that Bord na Móna has taken on this does not add up – it just doesn’t make sense. We cannot understand why these 72 permanent employees cannot be kept on because there is lots of work there.”

The local area representative then pointed to the local economy.

Of course our local economy here in Lanesboro is going to suffer over this – that too will be massive to an area here like ours.

Farrell continued: “In fact everyone around here will feel the pinch. The pubs where people socialise at the weekends; the shops here – everyone will feel that pinch.

Main Street, Lanesboro, Co. Longford

“I feel that the situation is not being handled well by Bord na Móna and that is one of the most frustrating things in all of this.”

Disappointment over the decision

Meanwhile, Monday’s protest came just one day before 300 more Bord na Móna jobs were put in jeopardy – this time in Co. Offaly.

That transpired because of a decision by An Bord Pleanála to reject an application by ESB to convert West Offaly Power Station at Shannonbridge to biomass.

Furthermore, ESB confirmed that it has been left “disappointed” by the move and will now focus on “studying the details of the decision”.