10 June 2021
By Elaine Murphy
Deputy Michael Collins and his colleagues from the Rural Independent Group, have today challenged government TDs to step forward and explain why they are allowing a deeply flawed and damaging Climate Action Bill to be “rammed through the Oireachtas”, without any consideration for practical solutions or opposition amendments.
Speaking today, from his office in Leinster House, Deputy Michael Collins emphasised:
“Rural Independent TDs have invested a significant amount of time and energy into crafting practical amendments to make the Climate Action legislation fairer and less destructive to rural Ireland and ordinary people.”
“We are deeply concerned at the immeasurable damage the legislation will have on Irish agriculture, leading to thousands of direct and indirect job losses across rural Ireland, while adding enormous and costly volumes of red tape.”
“We have tabled over 75 amendments to the Bill, representing a constructive attempt on our part, to protect rural communities and make the legislation more just. However, it is now clear that the government are indifferent to accepting any of our amendments.”
“In fact, of the total 239 tabled amendments at committee stage, only government ones were being accepted by the Minister. This serves to illustrate that this Bill is all about keeping the Greens in government, while Fianna Fail and Fine Gael hold onto power, despite the corrosive damage to the economy and the public.”
“Instead, the government have adopted an almost fanatical approach, which will ultimately destroy the Irish economy, the agriculture sector, rural communities, and make every single citizen poorer. This legislation is arguably the single most destructive piece of legislation to come before the Dáil since the banks were bailed out in 2008.”
“There is no two ways about it, if this Bill is passed by the Oireachtas, rural Ireland will be left in ruin and dictated to by an un-elected body known as the Climate Advisory Council.”
“For instance, this council will be dictating whether you can cut turf, how many cows a farmer can keep and whether a son or daughter can obtain planning permission on family lands to build a home. Not since independence will rural people face such obstacles and have absolutely no say on how these decisions are made.”
“Even this week, the former chair of the Advisory Council, Professor John FitzGerald, warned that the ‘only way agriculture can meet the targets set out in the Climate Action Bill is through a dramatic reduction in livestock numbers.’ We know that the Council previously proposed that cull to be around 3.4 million cattle or half the national herd by 2030.”
“Enough is enough. The time for spinning the party line or the government line must be challenged. Thus, my colleagues and I are calling on all Fianna Fail and Fine Gael backbench TDs to come forward and express clearly where they stand on the Climate Action Bill. The time for flippancy is long and truly over.”
“Government backbench TDs have been misleading farmers. The simple fact is that if this Bill is passed, then no-one will be able to change targets set by the Advisory Council and approved by the Minister.”
“The future of rural Ireland is under threat. We urge people to contact their TDs. If this Bill goes through, in the manner sought by the government, then rural people and communities will be dictated to by an unelected climate committee for the next three decades.”
“The stakes have never been higher. We remain firmly in the corner of rural communities and ordinary people. We will give rural backbench government TDs one final opportunity to decide which side they are on, when we table amendments at report stage of the Bill, on the floor of the Dail next week,” concluded Deputy Collins.