Independent TD Michael Healy Rae has hit out at Green party leader Eamon Ryan, claiming that his actions in Government were doing the environment more harm than good.
The Environment Minister has recently come out in favour of banning the sale of commercial turf - something Deputy Healy Rae says is just another example of the Greens making “a blunder and mess” out of their time in power.
“Personally, I’m sure that Eamon Ryan is a very nice man, a very polite man, a very cordial man,” Deputy Healy Rae told The Pat Kenny Show.
“But actually at this stage he and the Green party are a hindrance to the environmental movement because they make such a blunder and mess out of all of the proposals that they come along and make.
“For example, coming along and upsetting the whole country by saying that come the 1st of September they wanted to ban the sale of turf without discussing this with his partners in Government was obviously a very foolish thing to do.
“Something for which he is now facing a very strong backlash and something which he obviously is trying to turn back on.
“But this goes along the lines of the introduction of wolves into Ireland, the planting of lettuce on our south facing window sills, cutting short our showers, not washing ourselves as much, slowing down in our motorcars and these type of suggestions they actually discredit the Green party.”
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'Ignored for decades'
On Sunday Minister Ryan told Newstalk that a ban was needed in order to tackle air pollution in rural Ireland and that successive Governments had been dodging the issue for years.
“We will introduce a ban in September,” he insisted.
“It’s been something that has been ignored for decades.
“One Government to the other has said, ‘Oh, we will do it’ - but then shied away.
“And it is time to do it because 1,300 people a year are dying prematurely in our country [from air pollution] and we can’t ignore that.”
However, it remains unclear whether the Greens have the support of their coalition partners on the issue. Taoiseach Micheál Martin has yet to weigh in on the subject, while Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that turf was commonly used in Mayo, where his partner grew up, and that the Government needed to be “sensitive to traditional practices".
"Everyone there [in Mayo] has a bit of bog, and they cut the bog during the summer and use it as fuel during the winter,” he explained.
"If there's an elderly person in the area, for example, they might give them some turf for the winter - or might even sell some turf to a neighbour who can't cut their own bog, or doesn't have enough bog.
"And that is sale and distribution - and I don't think we should make that illegal.
"I think that would be going too far, I think it would be a sledgehammer to crack a nut".
Main image: Michael Healy-Rae addressing media on the Plinth outside Leinster House today. Picture by: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie