The Rural Independents have been trying for some time to warn against the Green Party and the malign spell it has cast on the Coalition. They know the ordinary god-fearing country people of Ireland will suffer horribly as a result of this hold that Eamon Ryan and his pernicious acolytes have over Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar.
But the Taoiseach continues to dance to the tune of the Greens, railed Mattie McGrath on Tuesday. “You want people to have no cars, you want people to have no services in rural Ireland and you want to herd them all into the cities.”
Mattie’s vision of the future looks bleak enough to bag a Netflix series.
It may be all bicycle clips and fermentation on the outside, but this conceals the dangerous zealot inside
“You don’t want to help the people. You want to let them perish and die in the ditches – that’s what you’re going to do. And that seems be your raison d’etre in politics, which is ‘to hell with the people. Once I am all right, Jack, I’m fine.’”
Perhaps he was being a bit harsh on Micheál.
But the Independent TD for Tipperary and his fellow believers are intensely suspicious of the Greens. It may be all bicycle clips and fermentation on the outside, but this conceals the dangerous zealot inside.
Just look at the stance the Taoiseach has adopted over the carbon tax. His refusal to contemplate reducing it, along with the cost of petrol and diesel, is further proof for the Roaring Independents that Micheál has been well and truly captured by the short and curly bean sprouts.
But he doesn’t agree.
Action must be taken by the Government if climate change is to be addressed and nothing will happen if the Opposition keeps objecting to measures such as carbon tax or a carbon budget. The Taoiseach was taking flak from all sides on the issues, including Jennifer Whitmore of the Soc Dems and Paul Murphy (Sol-PBP), both unhappy at what they saw as the carbon budget being rammed though by the Government without sufficient debate.
The Roaring Independents were, meanwhile, incensed by the rapidly rising cost of fuel.
“What I’m struck with by all of the debates to do with climate change is that everybody wants to delay the day of reckoning, it seems to me, on all fronts,” mused Micheál, adding that in the previous debate on the cost of living, people said his government should postpone the carbon tax.
“And the same will happen with the carbon budgets and everybody will say it’s not enough, but when actual specific measures are going to be put on the table in respect of realising these objectives, everybody will oppose them, ” he sighed.
“I mean, this is going to be the story of climate change for next number of years.”
If he was looking for sympathy he’d come to the wrong place.
“Join the Green Party,” scoffed Mattie.
You see? You see? Micheál pounced. The honour of Eamon Ryan was at stake.
“There you go again! All you seem to want to do is create a bogey, or the bogey [that] the Green Party is the greatest evil since time began.”
“It is,” said Mattie.
Danny Healy-Rae shouted his support. “He’s telling the truth.”
“But they’re not, deputy McGrath,” replied the Taoiseach with an exasperated smile. “They’re not. And the younger generation in the country need us, need this Oireachtas to deal with climate change once and for all. We cannot keep on postponing climate change, we can’t keep on delaying climate change.”
But that’s exactly what is happening, said Paul Murphy.
Each time they try to do something “concrete” about the carbon budget they come up against objections, countered Micheál.
When some big world event comes along like “COP26 or whatever, everybody is all ado for about a week or two” and then the objections start again.
Mattie remained unconvinced. All the Taoiseach wants to do is “dance to the tune” played by the Greens. If he wanted to do something “immediate and meaningful” to help people struggling with the big increases in fuel costs, he could follow the lead of other countries in Europe and cut taxes and cap costs.
This would particularly help people in rural areas where the rising price of road and agricultural diesel is causing real hardship. But then, when it comes to the price of petrol, what would somebody like Micheál Martin know about this?
I don’t know the last time you pulled up at a filling station and filled your own car, because you’ve a driver
The Taoiseach told him it was “very dishonest” to say the carbon tax is the main reason for fuel inflation when global factors are the key contributor. The Government is preparing targeted measures to “cushion the blow” for people worst hit by the rising costs.
Mattie went in for a low, uncushioned blow.
“It’s you being dishonest with the people and they know it. I don’t know the last time you pulled up at a filling station and filled your own car, because you’ve a driver. You had one when you were leader of Fianna Fáil and you