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de Brún calls for insulation scheme in the North and welcomes action from Minister Eamon Ryan

8 February, 2009

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has called for decisive action by the Executive to mirror the announcement today from Irish Government Minister Eamon Ryan that almost 4000 jobs could be created through the introduction of a Government scheme which aims to dramatically improve insulation in homes throughout the 26 Counties.

As a result of the scheme households can expect to reduce their heating bills by around €700 a year by burning less oil and gas, which also reduces carbon emissions.

Ms de Brún said,

"Firstly I want to welcome this announcement which will no doubt be of benefit to people throughout the twenty six counties. We need a new upgraded scheme of this sort in the North.

"What I am calling for, in light of this announcement from Minister Ryan, is cross-departmental action to ensure greater fuel efficiency in existing homes, including improvements to insulation schemes. Such a strategy could tackle three major issues in tandem - energy efficiency in relation to climate change, fuel poverty and the downturn in the building industry. I have been calling for a scheme for some time now and find it hard to understand the delay in taking the kind of action we have seen from the Irish government.

"In Mid Ulster, for example, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit rose by 147 per cent between November 2007 and November 2008, from a total of 637 to 1,515. Much of this is due to a downturn in the construction industry.

"Meanwhile many less well off families cannot pay their winter fuel bills and many older people die prematurely because of fuel poverty.

"Minister Arlene Foster has recognised the importance of green jobs but there is a very real difference between recognising the need for something and actually carrying it out.

"I would ask that Minister Foster look to Eamon Ryan's plan and work for the benefit of all in these difficult times." CRÍOCH

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