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Concerns for Coillte and Bord na Móna raised during ESB debate in Dáil

21 September, 2011 - by Brian Stanley TD

Speaking in the Dáil this evening Sinn Féin Environment spokesperson Brian Stanley said any sale of the government stake in the ESB will bring an end to the many valuable social projects supported by the company.

Deputy Stanley also questioned the government’s intentions for other state assets Bord na Móna and Coillte saying that both of these companies have huge potential to create badly needed jobs while addressing our energy requirements.

Speaking on a Sinn Féin motion opposing the sale of the government stake in the ESB Deputy Stanley said:

“The ESB has supported social projects that have benefited the most vulnerable in our society. Suicide projects, homelessness projects, local sports events, regional charities, research bodies and local community and parish based initiatives have all received support including in Portarlington.

“Will private interests really be happy to unquestionably extend financial support to communities and away from shareholders? The suggestion by Ministers Rabbitte and Howlin last night that they intend to find caring sharing privateers who will put the public good ahead of shareholders is the stuff of daydreams, well-intentioned but a million miles away from reality.

“Two of the other companies referred to in the McCarthy Report are Bord na Móna and Coillte. The recommendation was that Bord na Mona be sold off and that Coillte dispose of the forestry under its control.

“The Government is committed to merging them as part of New Era. However, as others have said, it will be interesting to see whether that gets off the ground given the IMF and EU hostility to the notion of public investment in job creation.

“If New Era does not proceed then the issue of what happens to Bord na Móna and Coillte will be thrown open once again.

“It is vital in my opinion that they and the land and forestry under their responsibility are retained in public ownership. In my own constituency of Laois/Offaly there are massive tracts of cutaway bog that needs to be utilised for example in the whole area of alternative energy.

“As the Government’s own proposal regarding New Era recognises, there is huge scope for the development of renewable energy sources and both Bord na Móna and Coillte could play a key role this which would have massive potential both in terms of addressing our energy requirements and creating badly needed jobs. In Laois/Offaly for example the number of unemployed is heading upwards toward 17,000 people. Utilising these resources can provide part of the solution to this.” ENDS

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