Despite the “challenges” politically centre parties are facing across Europe, Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe doesn’t think these parties need to move further right.
Mr Donohoe is attending the Fine Gael special conference in Maynooth with his fellow party members as they discuss ‘delivering for rural Ireland’.
The Fine Gael minister told The Anton Savage Show the political centre in Europe is facing “challenges” at the moment.
“That's one of the reasons why our party has had a number of different conferences, such as today, looking at themes,” he said.
“The big theme today is for and on behalf of rural Ireland.”
'Challenges' facing the centre
Speaking on the challenges facing political parties today, Mr Donohoe criticised the UK Conservative Party’s push to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.
“The challenges of migration are hard for any country receiving into them the large movement of people,” he said.
“But we have to treat those coming into our country in a fair way but also in a compassionate way.
“The last way to achieve that is to put them on a plane and fly them off... I respect the Government's right to make decisions, but it’s the last thing I would want to do.”
Mr Donohoe said there is “nothing inevitable” about politics becoming “less full of compassion”.
“Across Europe our own country, we are trying to grapple with challenges in a compassionate way,” he said.
“There's no doubt at all these challenges are posing a particular challenge for parties of the centre.
“But I don’t believe the centre of politics has to move to the right to deal with these challenges.”
Greener rural economy
Today’s special conference sees the Taoiseach and party members discussing the opportunities and challenges the agricultural sector faces.
Mr Donohoe said the Government is focused on providing a “greener economy while maintaining living standards in rural Ireland”.
“Part of the answer to it is how we make better use of savings in Ireland and across Europe, so that the private sector is able to invest in technology to allow us to do it,” he said.
The Public Expenditure Minister also pointed to the “success” of the carbon tax.
“I know this had been difficult with the price of carbon when the cost of living we're in,” he said.
“But this means we're investing €800 million extra in a ring-fenced way to make a difference to cycleways, how we walk around the country, how we use fuels.”
Common Agricultural Policy
Mr Donohoe also pointed out the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) remains worth up to €9.8 billion.
“Roughly a quarter of that is ring-fenced to provide payments to farmers to allow them to make the changes they are making, and they know the need to make them,” he said.
On Newstalk Breakfast yesterday, Supermacs CEO Pat McDonagh claimed that everything in Ireland is “city-concentrated”, something the conference should address.
TD Michael Fitzmaurice also accused Government parties of failing to represent voters outside Ireland’s towns and cities – and warned that he will not stand in the next election if he cannot convince rural TDs to form a new political party.
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