Thursday, 11 July 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Brendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
I heard what the Tánaiste said about the necessity to support Bord na Móna in what is an extraordinary major transformation, but I did not hear the detail of what the support is to be. Bord na Móna is not to be abandoned as a company that must make such massive changes in the services and work it offers. We must have a national plan in sync with a just transition to a different, carbon-free economy. Today communities are fearful for their jobs. Lough Ree Power Plan will be the start, but many more people will be worried today. Families who have depended, in many cases for generations, on Bord na Móna want to hear clearly from the Government that it will stand by them and ensure nobody will be left behind and that they will be supported with whatever resources are required, not only to do what I have suggested such as rewetting bogs but also to create new carbon sinks, which is an infinitely better solution than paying fines to the European Commission for a failure to meet our greenhouse gas emission targets. Will the Tánaiste give a commitment that no worker will be left behind? We all remember the Norman Tebbit attitude when the coal mines in England were closed and the Thatcherite view to workers was "Get on your bike." Let us not give that message from this House. Let us be clear that every worker in Bord na Móna who will be affected by a new national strategy into which we have all bought will be protected in a just transition and that their livelihood and that of communities throughout the midlands will be protected.