Bord na Móna accused of using ESB-EPA impasse to lay off Lanesboro workers

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Bord na Móna  cuts: ‘What hope is there for me?’, Lanesboro worker laments

Protestors at the recent public rally in Lanesboro

Bord na Móna bosses have come in for stinging rebuke and have been accused of using an ESB led decision to cease operations at its Lough Ree power plant in Lanesboro to make up to 150 staff redundant.

They were the scathing remarks which came the energy firm's way at a special meeting of Longford County Council by OPW Minister Kevin 'Boxer' Moran.

Mr Moran hit out at ongoing fears over the future of up to 150 jobs at its Mountdillon plant following the ESB's decision to suspend operations at its own facility due to concerns linked to hot water discharges being released into the River Shannon.

"It's a serious situation if a company is using a licence to lay off staff," he said, as he also accused Bord na Móna of "holding back" certain information as to what its future plans were.

Cathaoirleach of Longford County Council Cllr Micheál Carrigy, who called the special meeting, held talks with Environment Minister Richard Bruton in Tullamore later that same afternoon.

A number of Oireachtas members also attended the discussions which the Ballinalee postmaster described as 'positive'.

“Peat has been at the heart of the midlands economy and in particular Lanesboro and its environs for generations and I have received assurances from my colleague in Government that every effort will be made to protect the workers in the industry as we move forward,” he said.

The local Fine Gael general election candidate, like others before him, was deeply critical of the way staff had effectively been left in limbo by the crisis.

“There are workers who have given 20, 30 years and even longer and they have been treated disgracefully,” he said.

“It's not as if there is no work to be done.”

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Cllr Carrigy also hinted at the prospect that local as well as constituency based politicians were being kept in the dark over certain issues linked to the job cut fears.

Longford Westmeath TD Willie Penrose was another to air his misgivings over how employees were still looking for answers as well as clarity as to the future of their jobs.

“I was absolutely gobsmacked by it and the way they (Bord na Móna management) treated the trade union movement in such a disgraceful way,” he said, while suggesting the planned cuts may be an attempt by the firm to privatise.

Fine Gael group leader Cllr Colm Murray was equally strident in his derision of the energy provider.

“The conduct of the company in relation to this issue over the last few weeks has been nothing short of scandalous and falls well below the standards they have set over the last number of decades,” he stormed.

Cllr Ger Farrell, who returned from his honeymoon for the meeting said he had made contact with Enterprise Minister Heather Humphreys to aid those workers who had been left in “no man's land”.

Cllr Mick Cahill said the topic was one which was especially heart-wrenching for him after spending 46 years on the company's pay roster.

Others, headed by Fianna Fáil's Seamus Butler and Mark Casey expressed their own reservations as to the strength such a meeting would hold in terms of protecting the 150 jobs under threat.

Cllr Butler said the discussion was one which was being held in a “bit of a vacuum” while his Lanesboro Independent counterpart was arguably even more cynical.

“This is an absolute race to the bottom,” Cllr Casey raged.

“And what I don't want to see is this being turned into a talking shop and for it to become an election issue for people to grandstand on.”

Bord na Móna cuts: ‘What hope is there for me?’, Lanesboro worker laments loss of his job