Kerry TD, Michael Healy-Rae, has described the importation of fuel and meat from abroad as “folly” – and said Ireland is losing jobs and farmers are being shut down because of green policies. He said the “Green Party should be ashamed of what it has done to the [Irish] people.”
“First, look at the folly of what is going on in Foynes, where we have mulch coming in from Brazil. There are thousands of tonnes of it and it must be transported up through the country to replace the peat we were producing ourselves,” he said.
“The Minister of State [Ossian Smyth] may shake his head because he is ashamed of that fact, which has made a lot of headlines in the last couple of days,” he told the Dáil.
“I put down parliamentary questions on it and this is not the first ship that has come in. Of course, the Government will take every way it can to try to sweep that under the carpet and deny it is happening, but it is happening,” he said.
“Peat is coming from Latvia, briquettes are coming from Germany and the mulch is coming from Brazil. Brazil is cutting down the rainforests, mulching them up and transporting that mulch to Ireland for us to use, and we are losing all the related jobs.”
“If the Green Party achieves its ultimate aim of reducing the national herd, we will also end up importing beef from Brazil. It will make farmers and ranchers in Brazil big and shut us down. That is crazy,” the Kerry TD said.
We are importing Peat from Latvia, Briquettes from Germany and Wood Chip from Brazil, that’s what Green Party policy has led to in Ireland. Because they close production here.
There ultimate aim, reduce our own herd and import beef from Brazil and make big farmers out of them. pic.twitter.com/rUQqKCwu5i
— Michael Healy-Rae (@MHealyRae) May 13, 2023
He was also sharply critical of Sinn Féín for what he saw as support for government policies.
“I do not like being critical of anybody, but I like being honest and straight in my dealings. Sinn Féin tabled this motion, but it is the same Sinn Féin that supported the Government when the latter wanted to introduce the carbon tax in the first instance,” he said.
“We were opposed to the tax because we knew it would affect weaker and more impoverished people. In particular, it would affect people living in rural Ireland more adversely than it would others.”
“Sinn Féin is now realising this and trying to go back on it, claiming that the party is trying to stop that from happening, but Sinn Féin started it in the first instance along with the Green Party, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. They have made an unmitigated mess and made it expensive for people to live in Ireland”, he said.
Limerick Deputy, Richard O’Donoghue queried the Green Parry leader’s absence from the Dáil chamber.
“I thank the Minister of State for coming to the Chamber and listening to us, as every time the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, sees us coming, he is gone because he knows we are telling the truth,” he said.
“I believe he has gone from being green to being yellow. Like the coward of the county, he is out the door as fast as his legs can carry him when he sees us coming because he knows we speak the truth. We are self-employed, so we understand what the carbon tax and energy crisis can do to businesses and every person in this country. That is why he runs from us and hides when we are in the Chamber – he knows he will have to listen to the truth.”
“Deputy Michael Healy-Rae just spoke about trucks carrying woodchip arriving in Foynes and transporting it to keep the lights on. That is nonsensical, but the Government closed the various factories that delivered energy. Now, we are transporting woodchip around the country. The Government has no concept whatsoever of what that means,” he argued.
“Someone can go to Spain and buy a barrel of gas for €16. It costs €45 in Ireland. Is Ireland not an EU state? Ask someone in any other European country what the price of fuel is there and people in Ireland will still pay more. A year and half ago, I brought a truck to Leinster House to highlight transport costs,”
However, Minister of State, Ossian Smyth defended carbon taxes.
“Where do the revenues from carbon taxes go? Half of the money raised from carbon taxes goes to targeted retrofitting programmes aimed towards those in energy poverty. One third of the money that comes from carbon taxes goes towards increasing welfare payments. Those welfare payments have been selected to target people living in energy poverty. The remainder of the money is used to support agricultural schemes for farmers and the just transition,” he said.
“Every penny raised from the carbon tax is then redistributed according to those ratios.”
But Danny Healy-Rae said that “the exorbitant cost of electricity has driven many people demented.”
“The Minister of State’s buddy, the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, is specifically responsible for not ensuring the energy regulator does its job. The regulator has not done its job and there has been no account from the regulator through all this unmitigated mess. Other countries put a cap on the electricity. We asked the Government to do the same, day after day in this Chamber. The Government totally rubbished it and would not listen to us. People have gone through hell and back trying to survive. People depend on electricity. I had one elderly woman last year who was afraid to boil the kettle because of the bills she was getting.”
“Then, the Government is telling people they should not cut turf. It is trying to bring in that measure by the back door now by having something in the agri-climate rural environment scheme, ACRES, saying farmers cannot cut turf and if they do, their payments will be cut. I appreciate people around the country, but especially in Kerry, who cut turf to keep themselves warm. We have done it ourselves on our farm since the 1800s. I can go back that far. We will continue to do it while we live, and my family are at it now as well. I wish the people of Kerry well and tell them all to get out now and cut turf and not have their finger inside the Government’s mouth for electricity. The Government is telling people to put in heat pumps when they cannot pay the bills because of those heat pumps,” he said.