Irish 'rust belt' fears unless action is taken to secure jobs
'Rust belts' - areas of economic deprivation typically found in the North of England and the US - could emerge in Ireland unless action is taken quickly, a union leader has warned.
Communities in the Irish Midlands vulnerable to the cessation of turf production need the benefits of a new plan to ensure their economic future, said Adrian Kane, chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu).
He criticised the closure of the peat briquette factory in Littleton in Co Tipperary which Bord na Móna announced will happen next April with the loss of 128 jobs.
He called for the factory closure to be deferred to enable a "just transition plan" to help workers learn new skills to help them find new jobs.
"In some respects, Ireland's small towns are beginning to resemble the North of England's bleak post-industrial wastelands... There is a palpable sense of hopelessness," he said.