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05/16/2017 12:00:00 AM


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Bord na Móna

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Bord na Móna

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Bord na Móna

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Environment\Bord na Móna, issues relating to

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Deputy Alan Kelly

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Snippet Contents:

Surely one of the Ministers was available from the appropriate Department. I ask for the indulgence and support of the Government for the workers in the Littleton Bord na Móna factory.
A political charge was made against me on the floor of the House today by the leader of Fianna Fáil which was, frankly, childish. I know that he wants to run away from discussing the Garda Commissioner, but his remarks were childish. He was aided by his deputy leader, my colleague, Deputy Jackie Cahill. If he wants to take the stabilisers off the Deputy and let him come out and play, he should do so because it was one of the most childish things I had seen in my time in politics.
We met the workers in Littleton. Until today, the five Deputies involved were playing a very good game and trying to ensure we achieved the best outcome for the workers. We had worked together and met the Minister. I have spoken to the CEO of Bord na Móna. We have tried to work out the best way forward for the workers who have seen significant restructuring in the past few years which has affected 122 people, between full-time and part-time workers.
When we met the Minister last Friday week, it was quite an emotional meeting because some of the workers' grandparents had worked in the factory which goes back generations and it is not just about the work. It is also about minding the bog and ensuring production levels are maintained. It is a way of life. The decision of Bord na Móna, with which we disagree, has been made and e have been told it will not be changed under any circumstances. However, we need to fight to try to get the best deal for the workers.
There are four issues, the first of which is the peat which remains, how it can be used and whether there is capacity for it to be used for export purposes, in particular, in order to maintain and, it is to be hoped, generate some employment into the future. It is a distinct possibility with markets looking for peat.
Second and most important, we need to secure an extension of the closure date. April 2018 is far too soon. We need at least two more seasons in order to ensure the peat can be used and the workers will have a fair length of time to plan their exit and futures. We also believe there is a demand for their produce. There is a dividend payment of €10 million a year from Bord na Móna. Surely it could be used to facilitate the extension of time required for the workers.
Third, we need to renegotiate the redundancy package because the one in place is awful. To be frank, if somebody has worked at the plant for 30 or 35 years, he or she is being penalised. The longer someone has worked there, the worse off he or she will be by comparison. Therefore, we need to get a better deal for the workers.
Fourth, we need to have hope for the infrastructure and plant in place. The connection to the grid is nearby and facilities are in place. What incubation or other services could we plan for if we were to secure an extension of the closure date to ensure there will be some employment on the site? I am not referring solely to harvesting and exporting the peat but to other renewable energy sources that could be developed in the area, given the infrastructure in place and scale of the facility.