Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly Barry Cowen has called on Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Denis Naughten to reiterate his support for continued operations at the Bord na Móna facility in Derrinlough.
Deputy Cowen made the comments after the company announced that it is to exit the coal business and cease production of convenient products such as fire packs and fire-logs.
Deputy Cowen said, “Bord na Móna has been a significant employer in the Midlands down through the years. Many communities in Offaly have become reliant on the jobs that the company provides. There is no doubt that these communities could be devastated unless the restructuring of this company is handled correctly.
“Every effort must be made by Government to ensure that Bord na Móna is able to diversify into new renewable energy technologies. Minister Naugthen needs to have a clear commitment that the company will be supported to allow it to continue its operations in Derrinlough in particular. There is a plan to turn the facility into a world class biomass production facility. We need to see tangible evidence that this plan is progressing now that Bord na Móna has announced such a significant change to its overall operation.
“The discussions between Bord na Móna and the ESB are still ongoing regarding the price of peat for power stations. It’s worrying that this issue still hasn’t been resolved. The Government needs to ensure an agreement is struck as soon as possible. Failure to do so puts jobs at risk in Edenderry, Shannonbridge and Lough Ree. These communities cannot be allowed to be left behind.
“I have been calling for funding raised under the Carbon Tax to be reinvested in renewal energy technology. This will give Bord na Móna a future and will ensure continued employment in the Midlands. The Government needs to recognise the significance of today’s announcement. Jobs are at risk unless decisive action is taken.”