Mr. Kieran Mulvey has been appointed as Ireland's first Just Transition Commissioner. The Commissioner will help ensure a co-ordinated and effective approach to a Just Transition for communities and workers affected by the imminent ending of peat harvesting for power generation in the Midlands region. The Terms of Reference for the Just Transition Commissioner set out that the secretariat support for the Commissioner will be provided by my Department or the Midlands Transition Team as appropriate. Further details such as the remuneration of the Commissioner and the term of the contract are currently being finalised.
Together with my ministerial colleagues the Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe T.D., the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan T.D and the Minister of State for the Office of Public Works Kevin Moran T.D., I recently met with workers affected by the recent announcements from both Bord na Móna and ESB as well as Union representatives and Oireachtas members.
The Government has also prioritised a number of initiatives for the Midlands in the context of Budget 2020 including:-
- €6 million for a Just Transition Fund, targeted at the Midlands, to support the retraining and reskilling of workers and to assist local communities and businesses in the Region to adjust to the low carbon transition. In recognition of their longstanding relationship with communities in the Midlands, the ESB has agreed to contribute an additional €5 million to this fund bringing its total value to €11m. While details around the allocation of this fund are still being finalised, it is expected that it will support retraining and reskilling workers and assist local communities and businesses in the Midlands to adjust to the low carbon transition. There will be further consultation with the structures in place in the Midlands, including the Midlands Transition Team, on the application of the funding.
- €5 million for a National Parks and Wildlife Service bog restoration and rehabilitation programme to restore 1,800 hectares of bog to their natural habitat, ensuring the return of these bogs to carbons sinks once again and creating 70 to 100 jobs.
- €20 million targeted at the Midlands, to deliver a new model to group housing upgrades, as set out in the Climate Action Plan, which will support an estimated 400 direct and indirect jobs, as well as significantly upgrading the social housing stock in the region.