Michael Healy-Rae TD has accused Climate Minister Eamon Ryan of living in “Never-Never Land” like Michael Jackson, adding that he would like to welcome the Minister to “the real world” as regards the rising cost of living.
The remarks were made yesterday in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions.
“I have always said and I am sure of the fact that the Minister is a nice and sincere man,” said Healy-Rae, referring to Ryan.
“However, he and the late Michael Jackson hold one thing in common, and that is the two of them lived in Never-Never land. I would like to welcome the Minister today into the real world where people are struggling to pay for their electricity, home heating oil and children’s education and to carry on with the basic day-to-day living.”
Healy-Rae went on to add that he was not a climate change denier, and refused to be accused of being so.
“I know we have to make changes, but there are changes we can afford to make and others we might want, but are not able to do,” he said.
“If the Green Party is so worried about everything, why has it not used its opportunity in government? Why has the Minister done nothing for the forestry sector? He has done nothing for people who want to plant or thin trees, or for people who want to build access roads to forestries to take out timber.
“He has ensured people in the horticultural sector now have to import 4,000 tonnes of peat from Latvia. Some 200 lorries bring it to and from the port every time. The Minister should think of the carbon footprint, because he thought it was a good idea to run out of here one day and shut down Bord na Móna.”
The Deputy added that the price of petrol and diesel “has gone up 30% or 40% since March.”
“I recently met with the Irish Road Haulage Association. What has the Minister done for those people? He has done nothing. He is failing to recognise we are an island. Things have to be imported into this country. They do not fall out of the sky. The things we use every day are delivered by road.”
He concluded: “It is hypocritical for the Government to lecture the public on the using of green energy sources, while benefiting enormously from the increased tax revenues from traditional fuels.”
Minister Ryan replied that the climate challenge “belongs to everyone,” and that he did not believe there were “deniers” in the Dáil.
“The science is so clear,” he said.
“The climate challenge belongs to everyone. It will not work as a fight or if we play this as a divisive political game.”