Anna Marie Delaney, CEO of Offaly County Council

Major local think tank on jobs future in Offaly

An emergency conference in Tullamore to stem job losses resulting from planned Bord na Mona closures will get under on Tuesday April 30 next.

Chief executive of Offaly County Council, Anna Marie Delaney will be present at the meeting planned for the Bridge House Hotel in Tullamore at 11am, as will Bord Na Mona representatives and trade unions.

The aim of the meeting is to tackle the issues surrounding climate change, and build a “just transition” between the fossil fuels industry and attracting more eco-friendly companies into the region.

International speakers from Germany and Scotland will also be on hand to discuss their approach to solving the jobs crisis when similar situations affected their own economies.

“The midlands has always had an issue with employment and investment,” says Macdara Doyle, Irish Congress of Trade Unions. “When Bord na Mona wind down, we need to put in place a new system, attract investment, create jobs, retrain people or else there will be inevitable decline in this region,” he states.

“Offaly and the council have a strong interest in this, they see this as a major issue. Offaly and the midlands in general will be majorly affected by this. “It's to ensure that there is no significant job losses or economic change. Communities must benefit,” he continues. “We do not want it to go like the 'Rust Belt' of America where industries just pulled out and walked away. 

“And it can be done. If you look at the Spanish coal mining industry, unions have just ensured major investment as coal mining companies wind down, so it can work if it is done right.

“Ireland has signed the Paris Agreement, that binds us to a contract and unless we meet our targets we will face big fines. 

"So we have to make the transition but this conference is all about harnessing that transition and making sure it is equitable for everyone in the community. 

"Bord na Mona will be taking a major hit so you have to put alternatives in place, you have to put those systems in place, retraining, attracting new investment, job creation, to make the transition as smooth as possible so that communities in Offaly don't lose out.

"We will have speakers from Germany and Scotland who will be speaking about their experience on Just Transition. The State has a role to play as well because this will affect workers right across the country."

Among the speakers are Dave Moxham, the Deputy General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), a position he took up in 2009.

Dave has policy responsibility for the public sector and voluntary sectors, employment rights, energy and climate change, civil justice, and courts reform. He represents the STUC on the Scottish government’s Just Transition Commission.

Patricia King ICTU; Jan Philipp Paprotny, German DGB union federation; Sébastien Storme, International Trade Union Confederation’s Just Transition Centre.

John MacNamara is Head of Commercial and Regulatory Affairs at Bord na Móna will be present, as will Timmy Dooley of Fianna Fail; Brian Stanley Sinn Féin; Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Fine Gael; Sean Sherlock Labour Party; Eamon Ryan Green Party; Bríd Smith Solidarity/People Before Profit; Paul Goldrick-Kelly Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI); and Willie Noone Siptu.

- Tackling Climate Change and Building a Just Transition Model in Ireland will get underway in the Bridge House Hotel, Tullamore from 11am - 3pm. Registration from 10.15am.