‘What hope is there for me?’
The heart-wrenching words of Longford man Mick Glennon as he, like dozens of his long time colleagues at Bord na Móna, contemplated the ever increasing likelihood of losing his job of 38 years next week.
The father of three was among a crowd of more than 500 protestors who marched from the bridge in Lanesboro to the south Longford town’s ESB peat-fired power plant at Lough Ree on Monday night.
The latter has remained out of commission for the past two and a half weeks amid concerns over hot water discharges into the River Shannon.
That move, exacerbated by legal proceedings taken by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prompted the semi-state to announce five days later of its plans to lay off 150 workers at its Mountdillon site.
For the likes of Mick, the uncertainty of what the future may hold was tangible as families and neighbours came out in a defiant show of support at the decision.
“Absolutely,” he said, when asked whether the planned lay-offs would impact his own personal situation.
“When you don’t know what your future is if you have a job or not for the future.”
“I have been there 38 years and I can’t understand; this hot water stretch in Lanesboro is an issue and it has been since the lifetime of the power station, it was known as a hot water stretch for fisherman.
“Now, all of a sudden it’s an issue with the EPA. It’s just hard to understand. I have a young family in school with three kids, sure I wouldn’t have a chance of getting employment locally.”
A few yards further down amongst the huge throng of demonstrators were former employees Peter Hanley of Ballymahon based car dealership Peter Hanley Motors and Seamus Flynn.
“I think it’s a terrible decision,” Seamus said in no uncertain terms.
“This wouldn’t be done above in the city.
“I never thought workers would be treated as badly as this.”
They were sentiments his co-protestor was only too keen to endorse.
Describing the occasion as a “sad day” for the town and those likely to be worst affected by the impending cuts, the local businessman said its knock-on effects would be stark and far-reaching.
“It’s going to affect my business as well as everybody else's in the locality,” he remarked.
“I worked there for 17 years and we all got homes out of it. It’s a sad day.”
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