Independent Cork TD Michael Collins has slammed what he calls a “deeply flawed” climate action bill by a “dysfunctional government”, claiming that the government is attempting to “ram it through” the Dáil at rural Ireland’s expense.
Speaking earlier this week, the Deputy spoke out against the speed at which the bill is progressing.
“It is now abundantly clear, from the committee stage deliberations on the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill, that the government are uninterested in listening to objections, as they hurry the Bill through the Dáil,” said Collins.
“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.”
Collins said that he and his colleagues in the Rural Independent Group tabled over 75 “constructive” amendments to make the bill more “just.”
“However,” he said, “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.”
Deputy Collins described the government’s approach to climate issues as “fanatical,” claiming that these measures would destroy the Irish economy, the agriculture sector, rural communities, and make citizens 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,” he said.
“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,” he added.