Cllr Ronan Moore, Social Democrats, has called for the immediate inclusion of Meath into the Midlands Engagement Process, so that community, public, private or third-sector led organisations might retrospectively submit proposals under the €11m Just Transition Fund, which helps support training and sustainable employment opportunities for workers and families impacted by Ireland’s early exit from peat harvesting.

Cllr Moore explains: “The Midlands Engagement Process as part of the €11m Just Transition Fund, attempts to identify and propose projects for potential support that will help provide training and sustainable employment opportunities in our community and county as peat production draws to an end. I believe that Ballivor and this west Meath region in particular would greatly benefit from the guidance being offered as part of this process so to assist community-based organisations; public sector and private sector; and other third sector organisations identify and propose projects.

However, despite Ballivor and its surrounding community enjoying a long-relationship with Bord na Móna stretching back generations, Meath is not being considered amongst ‘bog communities’ affected by the closing down of peat harvesting activities. This does not reflect the reality on the ground, however, with the Ballivor Bord na Móna plant currently employing 21 staff, between permanent and seasonal employees working in both peat-harvesting and the production of peat-based growing media products for horticultural purposes.

And as this sector undergoes dramatic change, acutely highlighted by this week’s announcement that the harvesting of peat is to cease immediately as Bord Na Mona shifts towards the rehabilitation of Irish bogs, securing training and sustainable employment opportunities for the region and a Just Transition for those most severely affected is vital.

In calling for the first Just Transition Commissioner Kieran Mulvey as well as the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment to include west Meath into the counties involved in this engagement process, I am also calling on Meath County Council as a matter of urgency to also advocate for this region’s inclusion. Otherwise I fear that this part of our community will face being left behind.”

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