*Moneypoint. Photograph: Páraic McMahon
A just transition fund for Moneypoint is an action that is too little and far too late, Cllr Ian Lynch said when launching a strong criticism of Clare’s Oireachtas members.
At a special meeting of Clare County Council where employment was the sole item on the agenda, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen (FG) attempted to play down the negativity surrounding the loss of over 100 jobs at Ireland’s biggest electricity generator.
“We were told last year Moneypoint will close, it is not closing, only one person has left Moneypoint so far, we all knew it was going to have to change. Moneypoint will have a strategic future”. All contractors ceased employment at the site in June of this year.
Kilrush representative, Cllr Ian Lynch (IND) was annoyed that despite the efforts of councillors trying to be proactive by “highlighting the issues this county is facing” which included writing to Ministers flagging concerns “and getting no response”. “Moneypoint is the one that sticks in my throat. We have known for years something was coming and nothing was done, we probably limited the use of the Estuary by doing nothing”.
“I don’t want to hear we need to fight, we’re fighting here the whole time. The Just Transition Fund is an absolute farce, a fund to be given a few weeks before it is closing down”. He felt such a fund is more beneficial in training surgeons or technicians “where there are jobs”.
Lynch continued, “Ye are our voices up in the Dáil. It is my community and people where I live that are going to leave because of this and the lack of jobs. The security isn’t there for the people of West Clare. I want ye to back us and listen to what we are doing. We do need to work together to ensure the polices are enacted now”.
Breen responded that he was well aware of the impact job losses were having, “I can assure you Cllr Lynch, I don’t live in a bubble I live among the people”.
Cllr Mark Nestor (FF) was also frustrated when assessing the lack of opportunities in West Clare. “People talk about being positive, I respect that but it’s a case of being very frustrated when we see what is going on. As far as I’m concerned it’s Dublin versus the West and that’s the equivalent of a senior hurling team playing a Junior B or C team, we haven’t a hope in hell. Like the flick of a switch 600 new jobs were announced in Dublin this week, was anyone else considered”.
“I went back to a funeral in West Clare this week and was told by one local man that last year ten people were buried in the local graveyard and there was only one birth. If that trend continues there will be no need for any factories or jobs because there will be nobody left in West Clare,” the Ennis councillor added.