Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly, Barry Cowen, has reiterated his call for 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.

Deputy Cowen said that the Government have been effectively silent following the recent announcement of job losses at both the Moneypoint coal plant and Lanesboro peat-fired plant, and that it is history repeating itself.

He explained, “In October last year when we learned of the closure of up to 17 peat producing bogs in the Midlands with the loss of hundreds of jobs I immediately called for a transition fund to be put in place.

“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.

“Bord na Móna has provided successive generations with a good livelihood in Offaly and while I acknowledge the decarbonisation process – without a just transition we are leaving families severely disadvantaged.

“The Government has been aware for years that a phase out of fossil fuel industries is necessary. They also know that these businesses have been central to rural communities for generations, so why not put in place a proper transition fund?”, he concluded.