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Up to 150 jobs at risk in Bord na Mona switch from peat

15th October 2018

CUTBACKS at Bord na Mona are putting up to 150 jobs at risk in the next few years, it was learned this week.

The shock revelation that scores of Offaly workers will lose their employment in the energy company came at a meeting of the County Council on Monday where Cllr Eamon Dooley warned of even bigger payroll reductions.

Cllr Dooley, Fianna Fail leader on the council and a former Bord na Mona employee, said between 100 and 200 employees will not be required if 900,000 tonnes of peat is replaced by biomass when the power stations are co-fuelled.

“That's on a good day, assuming the planning permissions going through Bord Pleanala for co-fuelling are successful,” said Cllr Dooley.

If planners turn down Bord na Mona's application to burn both peat and timber in Shannonbridge and Lanesboro, there will be much more serious consequences.

“If those are not successful then the show is over,” said Cllr Dooley.

He was aware Bord na Mona has committed itself to ending all peat production for electricity generation by 2030.

“To me, the writing is on the wall because that date is coming back closer, possibly to 2025 with production ceasing in 2023.”

Cllr Dooley said there was also concerns about a “Dublin-based” Minister, Richard Bruton, replacing Climate Action Minister Denis Naughten, who is from Roscommon, in the cabinet.

“I'm not too sure how au fait he is with bogs or how likely he is to be a friend of ours,” said Cllr Dooley.

The Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly, Barry Cowen, has said that the potential loss of up to 150 jobs at Bord na Mona facilities across the Midlands will have a devastating impact on the local economy unless a transition fund is put in place

“This is a hammer blow for the Midlands, and, in particular, Offaly. Successive generations of Offaly and Midland families have earned a good livelihood from Bord na Mona,” said Deputy Cowen.

“This is a difficult time for workers who may lose their jobs. They need certainty on their pay and conditions, what their redundancy package would look like, and the timelines they are facing into. They are owed this and more.

“It seems to me that Bord na Mona’s minds are made up, and they aren’t for turning. If they won’t reconsider this decision, I would implore them to ensure that a solution is not imposed on the workforce, but that proper negotiations are entered into with employee representatives.”

He said Employment Affairs and Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty and Minister Bruton “cannot leave it to Bord na Mona alone to make such drastic changes”.

“This is a semi-state company, and the Government must get involved to secure the best possible deal for workers,” he said.

He also called for carbon tax receipts to be ring-fenced to support workers and regions affected by the transition to a low carbon economy.

“While Fine Gael had no interest in such a proposal, it is now Fianna Fail policy,” said Deputy Cowen.

Offaly County Council decided on Monday to seek a meeting with Minister Bruton on the issue and disappointment was expressed at the failure of Bord na Mona to respond to a request for a meeting with the local authority a year ago.

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