From Thriving……..To Dying……and Where to Next????

From 24th September 1958 right through to 18th December 2020, Lanesboro had been the job hub for many hundreds of people who worked in Lanesboro Power Station (latterly Lough Ree Power LRP).  Similarly, this was the same case for Bord na Mona (BnM) who welcomed its first bagger to the Mount Dillon works in 1949. This central hub of employment was brought to an abrupt end by the closure of LRP which we in the community view as near-sighted Government legislation. A move which has left a large vacuum with only wasted breath and empty promises to fill the void.

Both companies created excellent employment opportunities to many surrounding communities. They provided summer employment for students to help further their education in university. They were the foundation for a vibrant community helping to create employment in shops, bars, cafes and hotels. It is not the closure which irks many in this region but rather the incompetence to remove a viable asset without any thought to replace it. Maybe one of the many advisors to government officials would ask, “but Minister what will the region do for employment” or “how will the community remain vibrant”? As with many issues outside the M50 one would imagine the answer was a swift “who cares”.

In early 2019 the Lanesboro/Ballyleague Collaboration group was appointed by Longford and Roscommon County Council’s. On the sudden announcement of these closures this group reacted in a very positive way by hosting a Think Tank in Lanesboro parish hall on Saturday 21st September 2019. It invited contributions from everyone that had a connection to the community and asked public representatives to plot a way forward. A myriad of ideas were put forward by people who travelled from far and wide to offer their ideas to the process. All thoughts were then categorised by order of importance to the community by the committee. A path forward rather than tears was the common theme. 

Just Transition under appointed commissioner Kieran Mulvey was introduced as a means of supporting the communities that were suffering because of these closures. A Just Transition Fund was announced however, the system proved to be intricate and funding of 80% for Feasibility Studies meant that a lot of excellent ideas had to be left by the wayside, while others had to go to borrowing just to see a Feasibility Study completed.  We completely support Mr Mulvey’s call for 100% funding and think it is vital to the progress of community projects and the reinvigoration of our and surrounding communities. 

Support for the community has proven to be very limited, at best, and it is unfortunate to say that this was a political opening missed by political parties. What do people want you might ask? It’s very simple. In this region people just want their kids to be able to return to work and live in the area. As opposed to the current situation of having to leave the country, move to Dublin to get a job. Presently, the cost of the youth brain drain from the community will leave us with an aged community and dereliction. 

Every community and especially aging communities need young people growing in their midst as they need the vibrancy and the excitement of youth in their midst. It is imperative to be able to offer the younger generation the opportunity of being able to live and work in their own communities, after qualifying, should they so wish. It is the onus that is thrust upon us to be able to help make that come true.     

We have one excellent project completed in our community; the nationally acclaimed Access for All boat.  What we need is an active voice that will support and enable the forward thinking and planning of our group. We can provide all the necessary ideas and local supports but without the support of higher authorities we will be languishing like the rapidly disappearing bog. 

We were thriving, we are dying and where to next is the question 

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