Eamon Ryan says Regina Doherty ‘sees political advantage’ in climate attack

Minister Eamon Ryan has accused a Fine Gael candidate of seeing “political advantage” by focusing on climate change policy.

The Green Party leader criticized his coalition partner’s candidate in the Dublin constituency following comments made in recent days on climate action and transport.

Regina Doherty, former minister and ex-Meath TD for Fine Gael, told The Mail On Sunday that if elected she would be a “watchdog in Europe to flag the Greens” and accused the party of targeting the city of Dublin divide “such as East and West Berlin. ”.

During RTÉ’s Prime Time debate on Tuesday evening, Ms Doherty accused the Green Party of an “autocratic style” and claimed some new cycle lanes in Dublin were “actually dangerous”, while the Green Party’s MEP candidate in Dublin, Ciarán Cuffe, accused her of rhetoric. “Going back 30 years, it lives in the past.”

Asked about Wednesday’s comments, Mr Ryan defended his party’s record on climate, saying he has repeatedly stressed over the years that climate change should not be about “finger wagging”.

The Environment and Transport Minister also said he was hopeful that the level of support for the party on Friday could “surprise people”, saying some election candidates were more “nihilist” than “far right”.

“There is no arrogance in the approach we are taking to climate,” he said, accusing Ms Doherty of seeing “political advantage in her attack on us”.

Coronavirus
Minister for Employment and Social Protection Regina Doherty. (FATHER)

“I think the reason for that is because I’m checking all the doors across the country. You go to a lot of doors where people see change happening and that’s hard.

“Put in a bus lane, put in a bike lane, it’s controversial… And I think what Regina is doing is taking that on the doors and saying, ‘I’m going to use that for my political advantage.’ I don’t think this is to the benefit of the Irish people because we do need to change.

“It’s change for the better, just like you’re changing, it’s hard to convince people of that.

“If you don’t change then buses just get stuck in traffic, cyclists are never safe and we don’t make Dublin the way it should be.”

He added: “I fundamentally disagree with Regina Doherty on the vision for the city. I don’t believe Dublin will work for Dubliners if it is heavy with traffic, if it is not safe to cycle and walk, if we don’t do that. have a functioning public transportation system.”

Asked whether he agrees with Mr Cuffe who accused Fine Gael of threatening to “unleash climate chaos”, Mr Ryan said: “I think Ciaran is right, they see this as unpopular in some quarters and they decide : ‘Okay, we’ll represent it. people who are not happy with that.”

Asked how to deal with attacks on climate policy issues from his coalition partners Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, Mr Ryan said: “With modesty, with humility but with persistence. Listen, but also argue your case not in an arrogant way, but in a logical way.

“You agree to disagree occasionally, but you sit down and come to a resolution, and you do it with humility, for starters.”

He said he hoped people would come out and “vote for climate action” on Friday, June 7, but acknowledged there had been a green ebb after an electoral wave of support in 2019.

European and local elections
Ciarán Cuffe, Green Party candidate for the Dublin constituency in the European elections, talks to a motorcyclist as he seeks votes outside Pearse Street train station. Date of photo: Thursday, May 30, 2024.

The Green party won 5.5 percent of the first preference votes in the 2019 local elections, and got two Members of the European Parliament elected after receiving 11.4 percent of the first preference votes in the European Parliament elections.

They are now at about 4 percent support.

“I think this is a time for political parties, especially if you are interested in climate, not to sit on the fence and not to avoid responsibility. I think it’s time to take it up in government – ​​whether that’s local government, national government or in Europe. They are climate action stations.”

“I sometimes find the tag ‘extreme right’ a bit strange, because yes, you assume conservative, you assume certain values,” he said.

“But actually I think a lot of the opposition on climate, whether it’s about migration, whether it’s about vaccines, whether it’s about the concept of a strong state or a trusted state, is not right or the left is just nihilist.

“I think this is the choice we unfortunately face, because at a fearful time in the world, the voices in favor of such a position are strong and could maintain the balance of power.

“The alternative will be a green balance of power.”

Mr Ryan added: “It is true that 2019 was a high point for environmental thinking, not just across Europe but around the world, and we took advantage of that in Europe and Ireland by having a historically successful electoral day.

“It is true that that concern about the environment has somewhat disappeared for several reasons: first, Covid dominated everything for two years.

“The war in Ukraine or the cost of living crisis were understandably at the forefront of people’s minds.

“How can I worry about the end of the world if I worry about the end of the week?

“But actually, the underlying concern and public understanding of the need to protect our environment continues to grow.

“The ‘short-term thinking’ comes and goes, but the overall level of awareness around the risks to our environment and therefore to ourselves is as strong as ever.

“We’ll see on Friday.

“I think we can surprise people, I think we might do well.”

He added that it was still “difficult to judge” at this stage as people were still making up their minds.

“I don’t have the hope that we can do well on Friday.”