Offaly TD says government should look to Spain in Bord na Mona futureproofing
Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly, Barry Cowen has said that the €250 million deal to support the Spanish coal mining industry as it comes to an end is exactly the type of deal with the Midlands needs to help it transition away from its reliance on peat-harvesting based employment.
Last week, Bord na Mona revealed that it was to shed over 400 jobs over the next ten years with 150 set to go before April 2019.
In recent weeks, Spain’s new Government secured an agreement between management, unions and other stakeholders for a €250 million deal that will see investment in Spain’s northern Asturias, Aragón, and Castilla y León regions and support for miners who may see their employment end.
Deputy Cowen added, “The deal covers Spain’s privately owned mines and mixes early retirement schemes with environmental restoration work, in addition, to finance to help reskill younger workers for new and emerging industries."
“The Spanish situation is very similar to that of the Midlands. The numbers losing their jobs in Spain is estimated at just over 600. The expected Bord na Móna direct job losses are in the same range with a similar number of indirect jobs in the region expected to be lost," Cowen said.
“The agreement in Spain demonstrates that it is possible to make progress on the Paris 2020 targets but without wholesale damage to communities and regions."
“Fianna Fáil’s proposal for a Sustainable Transition Forum, underpinned by funding from the EU’s Globalisation Fund, is exactly what the Midlands needs to allow it move away from its dependency on jobs associated with peat harvesting," Barry added.
“The question, for me, is not how do we keep every single job but how do we replace these jobs with well-paying, sustainable jobs that will keep our communities thriving and prosperous. That’s the challenge, but it’s a challenge that can be overcome, and Fianna Fáil will not be found wanting,” concluded Cowen.