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29/07/2021

Mounting fears Just Transition dream is "coming apart at the seams"

Not one job created since programme was set up, Dáil hears

Just Transition funding will make a huge difference to job creation in Lanesboro

Longford-Westmeath TD Joe Flaherty has said there are growing fears over the progress the State's Just Transition Fund is having in revitalising the midlands' local economy

The Government's much vaunted 'Just Transition' programme is "coming apart at the seams," it has been claimed.

Joe Flaherty, Fianna Fáil Longford-Westmeath TD, made the admission when speaking in the Dáíl this morning by claiming the scheme was failing the communities it was designed to represent.

Mr Flaherty said just €116k in funding has been paid out to community groups and business ventures from an overall €28m pot in Environment Minister Eamon Ryan’s Just Transition Fund.

ALSO READ: ESB "absolutely" should increase €5m contribution to Just Transition

"One example is the exciting Lough Ree Access for All project which seeks to employ and train former Bord na Mona workers as they provide exciting access to Lough Ree and the River Shannon for the disability community," he said, adding the group were awarded €472,000 under Strand 2 of the programme.

Mr Flaherty, who himself is a Lanesboro native, told of how several groups were finding it increasingly difficult to draw down funding while a 30 per cent hike in construction costs was further hampering locally based organisations.

The situation was so stark, he said, there was a real fear up to 30 of the original job creation projects, deemed eligible for almost €30 million in Just Transition funding last December, are unlikely to go ahead as they cannot meet matching funds demands of up to 50%.

"We still have to see a single job created as direct result of Just Transition and with momentum gathering behind the Climate Action Bill there is a real fear that the region set to carry the greatest burden and pay the greatest price may also suffer most in this process," he said.

The Fianna Fáil TD's comments follow a similar outburst by party colleague and former Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen.

The Laois-Offaly TD recently told the Dáil he had written to the Taoiseach to highlight the "ridiculously slow and poorly administered" delivery of Just Transition to date.

He said the lack of progress to date is a far cry from what was expected in Offaly, Longford, Laois, Kildare, Westmeath, Roscommon or East Galway.

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