Workers must be at the heart of the Just Transition

05 May 2021

Speaking in the Dáil today, Labour climate spokesperson Duncan Smith said that the Government must lead by example and embed principles of the Just Transition into the Climate Action Bill. Deputy Smith raised the example of Pat Barrett, who operated a family bike rental business in Lough Boora, Co. Offaly for the past 11 years, only to now be replaced by a big business from Dublin via a state agency. Deputy Smith said that workers need actions, not lipservice, to ensure a Just Transition.

Deputy Smith said:

“Addressing climate change and taking meaningful climate action will require a restructuring of our economy. It presents one of the greatest opportunities for our country to create well paid public jobs and has already inspired entrepreneurship in communities across the country. Workers and people must be at the heart of every climate decision we make. It cannot be dictated by the market.

“We have seen a prime example of the opposite of Just Transition happen this week in Offaly where Pat Barrett had operated a family business renting bikes to visitors at Lough Boora for the past 11 years. Thanks to the hard work and innovation of people like Mr Barrett, Lough Boora has become a hugely successful tourist spot with up to 100,000 visitors per year. This type of innovation is exactly the type of tourism experience that we must encourage, foster and grow in Ireland.

“However, despite the hard work of the Barret family, Bord na Mona have awarded a tender for the same amenity to a large bike-hire company based in Dublin. So we have a situation where local people in the area have created a thriving active travel amenity with operations and income remaining locally has is now to be replaced by a big business from Dublin via a state agency.

“This is not the Just Transition that Bord na Móna workers have been promised. There is something seriously wrong with the procurement process if it doesn’t take into account the impact on local jobs and local people in the area. The Government needs to outline what it plans to do to resolve and prevent further cases of this happening in the Midlands, on the Wild Atlantic Way, and across Ireland’s non-urban amenities.

“Examples like this give me great cause for concern in the Government’s commitment to Just Transition and climate justice. Government must focus on supporting community projects, and above all, creating a fair and equal society as we take meaningful climate action.”

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