Bishop Francis Duffy
The Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois Francis Duffy has called on the Government to act swiftly in the wake of yesterday's confirmation that Bord na Móna is to lay-off 430 of its staff, warning that if prompt multi agency action isn't taken the midlands faces slipping back into recession.
News of the impending cuts were announced yesterday (Wednesday) as part of the company's ongoing plans to decarbonise and move from peat production towards more renewable forms of renewable energy.
The company said all the redundancies would be voluntary and staff would be offered an exit package.
In a statement, it said it had “commenced engagement with employees flagging possible reduction of 380-430 managerial, administrative and peat operations roles”.
In the aftermath of that announcement, Bishop Duffy said he had been saddened by the anticipated job losses and even went as far as to say the midlands region faced slipping back into recession unless swift multi-agency remedial measures are enforced.
“Like many others I heard with concern the news of the job losses in Bord na Móna. The loss of up to 430 jobs is a devastating blow to employees in the midlands region, their families and to the local economy," he said.
"As well as being a vital energy resource, this semi-state company had a mandate to create employment for the region. The midlands now faces the real prospect of falling into a sharp regional recession unless multi-agency action is taken immediately."
Bishop Duffy followed that up by calling for prayers to be said at masses across the diocese for those likely to be affected by the cuts.
“I am asking that special prayers be said at Masses throughout the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois this weekend. I ask that prayers be said for the intentions of the employees and for the prospect of future employment.
“I also ask that the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Ms Heather Humphreys, a rural TD, and relevant State agencies, to prioritise our region in terms of sustaining employment opportunities for this skilled workforce."
“This shocking announcement not only directly affects Bord na Móna workers but, in addition, it jeopardises thousands of ancillary jobs which have been created since the 1940s, and which rely for survival on the pay spend of the workers.
“It is incumbent on our public representatives to continue to seek a commitment from government to assist these workers by every means possible. With our economy in the midlands still under par with the rest of the country, our community needs support today more than ever. I cannot overstate the depth of the impact that the loss of a major source of employment like Bord na Móna will have on a rural area which is weak with comparable alternatives.”