Offaly TD claims government delays cost Midlands €120 million
Independent TD for Offaly Carol Nolan has criticised what she says is the Government's delay in accessing a significant amount of EU funding to assist job creation and investment for the Midlands region.
Deputy Nolan was speaking after she questioned the Minister for Business, Heather Humphries, on the actions her department have taken to address the ongoing impact of job losses at Bord na Mona.
“While I made it clear to the Minister that initiatives like the Midlands Enterprise Plan are welcome and important, I also told her that there appears to be a lack of joined-up thinking by various Government departments when it comes to addressing the problems we have in the Midlands," Deputy Nolan said.
"I specifically asked her to explain why there was no mention in the Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan of the EU Commission’s Coal Region in Transition Platform. This particular Platform was launched in early 2017, a full year before Bord na Mona made its announcement of the 430 job losses."
"The whole reason for its existence is to promote funding and structural investment in areas exactly like the Midlands which traditionally relied on carbon-intensive industries."
"Yet her colleague, the Minister for Communications, has only recently written to them asking for funding and policy support," Deputy Nolan claimed.
"I certainly feel that we have lost valuable years here when jobs could have been created given that that Coal Platform is already delivering tailor-made assistance to 13 pilot regions in seven Member States."
"We also know that regions in Greece, Slovakia, Poland and Germany have benefited from its support."
"This is to say nothing of the fact that in the region of Silesia, which was the EU’s largest coal region, €120 million has been ring-fenced to provide support to projects in the area of urban infrastructure, clean air and to prepare former mining sites for investment."
"This is exactly the type of funding that the government should have been applying for on the midlands behalf in 2017. Unfortunately, it has only been applied for in the last few weeks, as confirmed to me in a parliamentary question."
"This is unacceptable and points to a clear lack of connected thinking within various government departments that should be working together to maximise the jobs potential of the Midlands region,” concluded Deputy Nolan.