Ministers’ visit to midlands ‘needs to be more than lip service’

A number of Government ministers will visit parts of the midlands affected by power station closures today, Monday, November 11, which “needs to be more than photo ops and lip service”, according to one TD from the region.

Eugene Murphy, a Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon-Galway, said that the communities affected by the ESB and Bord na Móna job losses at Lanesboro and Shannonbridge “face decimation and a loss of livelihoods that will be felt for generations”.

The ministerial delegation will be led by Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton, who will be joined by two other senior ministers (including Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe) and the Minister of State for the Office of Public Works.

“The transition fund of €6 million, allocated from carbon tax revenue this year, was envisaged to help and assist annually as transition progressed towards 2027. Even if it is combined with the €5 million the ESB has pledged, it is simply not adequate and will not go far enough to meet the pace of transition and wide-scale job losses,” Murphy warned.

Plans and proposals have already been drawn up from workers; their unions; a local transition forum; and local authorities, [as well as] local community action plans, which are the blueprint for funding streams…we need to see those plans being put into action now, rather than waiting for further consultations.

The TD continued: “If Fine Gael is genuine and sincere about its commitments to the midlands, then it needs to commit to funds for an integrated greenway in midlands counties, and also commit to a midlands-based fund for piloting decarbonised farming methods.”

Murphy also called for the power stations to not to be demolished after they are closed, and suggested instead that they be used as a tourist or visitor attraction “telling the national story of Bord na Móna”.

His party leader, Micheál Martin, added: “Communities and local authorities in the midlands need to be empowered and provided with the necessary funds and resources to ensure their well-informed plans are adhered to.

This will give the region the opportunity to succeed and prosper again.

The Fianna Fáil leader also called for a “new remit” for Bord na Móna “to give it the opportunity and chance to be to the forefront of new energies and to drive the energy creation industry forward”.

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