Speaking in their address of the Seanad today, MEPs Grace O’Sullivan, Seán Kelly and Billy Kelleher recognised the need to prioritise Offaly in the upcoming EU Just Transition Territorial Plan.
The MEPs for the South Constituency attended to address the Seanad, and I used the opportunity to re-emphasise to the MEPs that their most northerly county of Offaly is the most impacted county in Ireland by decarbonisation.
This is not conjecture, but a fact that has been widely and well documented, for example, most recently in the EnvEcon Report 2021. This Report, produced by EnvEcon, who were selected by the Commission to support Ireland by carrying out an assessment of the transition process, found that Offaly should be recognised as the most impacted county in the context of the EU Just Transition Fund.
I asked the MEPs present to do everything in their power, at this final stage, to ensure that the Just Transition Submission reflects the special case for Offaly.
Speaking in response to my request, Grace O’Sullivan MEP acknowledged that “any transition had to be a fair and a just transition and that we leave no one behind”.
MEPs Seán Kelly and Billy Kelleher agreed that just transition had to work to ensure that Peatland Communities should not be left behind, and that just transition had to work for specific regions and the communities within those regions.
MEP Kelleher said that “with the reduction in peat harvesting and the rewetting of bogs, any assessment has to accept that Offaly is the county that is most effected”
I am in regular contact with Offaly County Council and my colleague, Minister Eamon Ryan, to ensure that Offaly is recognised as the most impacted county in the context of the EU Just Transition Fund, and I welcome the agreement from MEPs O’Sullivan, Kelly and Kelleher in that regard,