Laois-Offaly election candidate launches plan to revitalise the Midlands
Sinn Féin Laois/Offaly candidate, Brian Stanley TD, has launched his parties policy document, 'A sustainable strategy for the Midlands,' which outlines what Sinn Féin would do in Government to revitalise Laois/Offaly.
This includes sections on the future of Bord na Móna, the creation of good quality jobs in renewable energy, new income streams for farmers, the immediate rollout of broadband, increased funding for rural transport and protection of local services.
Speaking at the launch, Brian Stanley said: "For far too long the Midlands has been neglected by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments.
"Large parts of the Midlands lack decent public transport, lack quality jobs and thousands of families will be affected by the accelerated closure of Bord na Móna.
"Sinn Féin has a strategy to ensure that the Midlands does not become a rust belt and our policy proposals set out a series of actions that need to be taken.
"In Government, we the Midlands to become a centre for renewable energy development - a power hub like it was in the past fuelled by peat.
"Our strategy outlines how we can create thousands of good quality jobs through the development of biogas, biomass and solar industries, sensitivity located.
"Bord na Móna workers should be given the opportunity to transition into these new industries and their existing Bord na Móna pension schemes must be underpinned.
"The Offaly Mount Lucas Training Centre needs to be expanded to become the national centre for apprenticeships in renewable energy, high energy efficiency construction and the retrofitting of homes and businesses.
"Workers in Laois currently face the longest commutes of all 26 counties with 17.4% of all commuters spending at least one hour to get to work. While Offaly workers face the 5th longest commutes. We need to create decent jobs in the Midlands to put an end to these long commutes.
"For solar energy, we would implement Sinn Féin's Microgeneration Bill and Solar Panel Bill and an enhanced grant scheme to ensure that families, businesses, farmers and schools all have the opportunity to generate their own electricity and sell any excess back to the grid.
"Sinn Féin will ensure the immediate rollout of broadband across the Midlands to ensure that we can develop businesses in the region.
"We also need serious investment in rural transport to connect villages and towns in the Midlands. This includes investment in local link services.
"Sinn Féin has a strategy for the Midlands to ensure the region has a sustainable, secure future which will provide communities with the opportunity to develop."