‘Little or no future for workers on the bog with BNM’ – TD

An independent TD has warned that there “seems to be little or no future for workers on the bog with Bord na Móna” in the coming years.

Roscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice was speaking after a meeting with ESB representatives in Dublin to discuss the situation with the peat-fired Lough Ree power station in Lanesborough, Co. Longford.

Following the meeting, Fitzmaurice argued that the climate policies pursued by the EU and the Government here were “destroying rural Ireland”.

Given the new tendering process for electricity coming into play from next year on, and what the ESB has to pay for carbon credits on the world market – as long as carbon credits remain at their current rate – it is clear that the rate at which electricity is produced through the burning of peat will be massively reduced.

“I think it has been very disingenuous of Government ministers coming out over the last 18 months and talking about adjustment periods and bringing in alternatives, when the real fact is that there seems to be little or no future for workers on the bog with Bord na Móna – other than to be reinstating them,” he claimed.

He stressed that this is a “massive disappointment” for people in rural areas where job opportunities are limited.

Fitzmaurice suggested that Lanesborough station, along with a number of others, would only be used as “back-up”, while the volume of peat required to power them “will not be anywhere near what was being used”.

‘A time for honesty’

The TD said that the ESB officials at the meeting – which was held today, Tuesday, July 16 – were not forthcoming with guarantees on how much peat would be used in its stations over the next six to seven years.

“How can a company, such as Bord na Móna, survive on that into the future economically?” he asked.

I think a time for honesty is required now, because I think a lot of stuff has been portrayed as mutton dressed up as lamb. It has been very disingenuous to the employees who have given years of service to the company.

“In the long term, there seems to be no plan going forward. Our country appears to be happier now to bring in biomass from a foreign land, pay for it there and get subsidised on it – rather than burning our own raw materials and keeping jobs in rural parts of the country,” argued Fitzmaurice.

He also suggested that if Bord na Móna workers who have decided to stay on until 2027 were present at today’s meeting, they would have made a different decision.

“As it stands, there is no plan other than redundancy. This is a disgraceful situation for the people and families that have served the company down through the years,” Fitzmaurice concluded.