Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Climate Action & Environment Timmy Dooley TD has called on the government to immediately establish a National Just Transition Task Force to develop a strategy with stakeholders and communities to secure employment and develop decarbonisation opportunities in the Midlands.

It comes following this week’s announcement of job losses at both the Moneypoint coal plant and Lanesboro peat-fired plant.

“The Government has been aware for years that a phase out of fossil fuel industries is necessary, particularly at the ESB Moneypoint plant, as well as Bord na Móna’s peat-fired plants in the Midlands. These businesses have been central to rural communities for generations, and locals recognise that the transition from fossil fuels has already begun in light of our climate commitments”, said Deputy Dooley.

“However, Fine Gael’s response has been both unacceptable and morally reprehensible. There is a knowing disengagement and a complete failure to kick off a collaborative and inclusive effort to assist workers and the wider communities which are being severely affected.

“Permitting an unjust transition and ignoring the real concerns of workers and communities risks undermining public trust and impeding State progress to prevent climate breakdown. 

“The landmark report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action stressed the need for a social dialogue through the creation of a National Just Transition Task Force. Fine Gael supported the establishment of this Task Force this year, yet it is absent from the government’s new Climate Plan.

“Minister Bruton has failed to provide a clear answer as to why it was excluded given the major challenges faced by communities in Longford and Clare. We cannot let these areas become the rust-belt of Ireland.

“If Ireland is to leave behind the embarrassing ‘climate laggard’ tag at EU level, the government must prioritise the needs of affected communities in its dealings with the European Commission. The EU Globalisation Adjustment Fund should be deployed in response to the recent job losses”, concluded Deputy Dooley.