Government have no vision for Midlands

11 November 2019

Speaking in relation to the closure of ESB plants in the Midlands, the leader of the Labour Party, Brendan Howlin TD, said that the government has no vision and is not providing enough hope of good employment for future generations of workers in the Midlands.

Brendan said: “The government is moving in the right direction in the Midlands, but at the wrong scale of ambition. They have announced small amounts of funding to support a few hundreds jobs in small-scale retrofitting projects, wind energy and other schemes. New jobs are always welcome, but the government is not offering hope for any real change to the level of economic development of the Midlands.

“Labour’s vision is for the creation of thousands of jobs, by investing in state enterprises like Bord na Móna, Coillte and the ESB. We need to examine what pilot projects have worked, such as Bord na Móna’s work in recycling, wind energy and fish farming, and we should provide the necessary investment to scale these up to be major employers in those regions that do not benefit from foreign direct investment to the same extent as others.

“There is no barrier in EU state aid rules to governments investing in state enterprises in the same way that a private investor would inject capital into their companies to develop new products and services. It just requires the vision and political will, which only Labour has in relation to the role of state enterprises.

“The government has been happy to allow state enterprises to decline, and its current efforts are a half-hearted attempt to paper over the cracks in their policies. Labour has the ambition to see state enterprises take a lead role in the industrial transformation that is needed for a carbon-free future.

“For example, many plastics based on fossil fuels can be replaced by biodegradable replacement materials made entirely from tree pulp. The state needs to provide the leadership and the investment to link the new Technological Universities with industry and State forestry bodies, to open up a new industrial sector that will provide good jobs in both the public and private sectors. We won’t achieve our climate obligations unless we are prepared to invest in third level research and state enterprise with this level of ambition.”

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