Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly Barry Cowen has initiated plans to create an Enterprise Fund for Offaly in order to ensure strong investment in employment creation projects in the years ahead.

Deputy Cowen argues that the creation of such a fund will ensure industry in Offaly can continue to grow as Bord na Móna’s programme for peat extraction nears completion.  This programme is due to expire in fifteen years. However this could be brought forward depending on the planning decision regarding Edenderry power plant.

“Bord na Móna and the ESB are major employers here in Offaly and have contributed enormously to the local economy down through the years. The two companies will continue to provide high value jobs in the years ahead, but it is important that we as a county take steps to ensure that we diversify our economy,” explained Deputy Cowen.

“It’s never too early to begin planning for the future, and we want to have the groundwork laid well in advance of any further wind down of these two companies. There are serious implications for Edenderry Power, West Offaly Power, Derrinlough and Littleton Briquette factories. There are also seasonal and associated work force problems the region that must be overcome.

“I’m pushing for the creation of a new fund to invest in jobs and infrastructure in Offaly in the coming years. This fund will be made up from 20% of the Carbon Tax presently being paid on peat to the Government. It will amount to €2.4m per annum. Over a ten year period the fund will invest some €24m into the local rural economies of Offaly. This money will be spent on promoting industrial development, social enterprise, community projects and will also go towards providing high quality training and apprenticeship projects.

“Cllr. Eddie Fitzpatrick and I along with local Fianna Fail Cllrs and members support this proposal and will be working to ensure it is front and centre in the next Programme for Government. Fianna Fáil is committed to spreading any economic recovery to the regions rather than the two tier recovery which is evident under the present Government.

“I have discussed this plan with my party colleague and Spokesperson on Energy Michael Moynihan and I am confident it will be pursued by Fianna Fáil in Government.  The Enterprise Fund is not a hand out – it will enable workers and communities across Offaly to play a part in securing their future.  It will provide a springboard for the future development of the area,” concluded Deputy Cowen.