Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly, Barry Cowen has welcomed the publication of the Just Transition report and said it’s vital that work begin immediately on implementing the recommendations.

He praised the work of the Just Transition Commissioner Kieran Mulvey in bringing the report to Government and said he supported his proposals.

Deputy Cowen explained, “The report identifies a number of specific proposals including increasing the just transition fund, the establishment of a new taskforce to support the midlands and addressing the funding shortfalls from commercial rates.

“The crux of the matter is funding. Work must begin immediately to ensure the release of the €11 million in funding which is in place for reskilling. We need to create jobs.

“Urgent action must be taken to address shortfalls in funding for Local Authorities. The loss in rates funding to Offaly County Council will be 25% and to Longford County Council 15% as result of power station closures. The report rightly recognises this as a massive blow and calls on the Government to address it.

“Mr Mulvey has also called for additional funding to be injected into the Just Transition fund and I absolutely acknowledge that the next Government must increase investment in the Just Transition Fund.

“At every turn we’ve seen an acceleration of the decarbonisation process which far outstrips any investment in the midlands. Everyone had been aware of the decarbonisation process, we knew what was coming, but no one was prepared for the brutal way in which it would be implemented, with blow after blow coming for workers in the midlands over the past number of years.

“Fianna Fáil have been consistent in our support for a Just Transition for the midlands. In Budget 2020 we secured an additional €31 million for the region which included a €6 million Just Transition Fund, €20 million for retrofitting and €5 million for Peatlands Rehabilitation. Our support for the midlands will continue during Government formation talks.

“We know that to sit on our hands now would risk damaging the Midlands for decades to come and potentially damage future efforts to decarbonise. We have one chance to get the Just Transition right and we must take it,” concluded Deputy Cowen.