Sinn Féin TD for Laois-Offaly Brian Stanley has called for much more to be done in respect of the Just Transition plan for the Midlands, after replies to Parliamentary Questions have revealed that not a cent has been spent of the €36 million allocated in the 2020 Budget for the plan.
€36 million was allocated to three separate schemes; the Midlands Just Transition Fund, the Midlands housing retrofit project and the Midlands peatland rehabilitation scheme.
Teachta Stanley said:
“It is totally unacceptable that we are now into July and not one cent has been invested in respect of the Midlands Just Transition project.
“People in the Midlands have gone through a lot in recent years with a significant number of job losses at Bord na Móna and an accelerated withdrawal from brown energy.
“We were told that the Midlands would be at the heart of Ireland’s just transition to green energy.
“We were also told that the Midlands would set a high standard for how other regions across Ireland would transition.
“What the people of the Midlands need right now is urgency. We need to see economic development in the region and we need to stimulate the local economy.
“The Just Transition Fund was established to support local businesses and environmental projects – yet not one euro of its €11 million budget has been spent in 2020.
“The Midlands housing retrofit project is there to create construction jobs and to get money into local suppliers and not one euro of its €20 million budget has been spent.
“The peatlands rehabilitation scheme is there to provide shovel ready jobs for redundant Bord na Móna workers – yet not one job has been created and not one euro of the €5 million allocation has been spent.
“While we recognise that Covid-19 has played a role in delaying many aspects of daily life, these are three projects which are way behind schedule and should have been progressed by now.
“We badly need to kickstart the economy in the Midlands and these three schemes have a major role to play. Sinn Féin will make sure that the pressure stays on the government to get the funds invested as soon as possible.”