Opposition accused of trying to frustrate Government climate change plans

Parties wanted to set impossibly high targets for reducing carbon footprint so Government would not reach them, meeting heard

 Climate change protesters demonstrated outside Leinster House in Dublin earlier this week.   Photograph: Laura Hutton/The Irish Times

Climate change protesters demonstrated outside Leinster House in Dublin earlier this week. Photograph: Laura Hutton/The Irish Times

 

Opposition politicians have been accused of trying to frustrate Government plans to address climate change at a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party.

Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughten gave a presentation to the meeting on Wednesday night about the progress made by the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action which she chairs.

One source said the meeting heard claims that parties such as Fianna Fáil and the Greens wanted to set impossibly high targets for reducing the carbon footprint so that the Government would not reach them.

It is understood the Minister for Communications and Climate Action Richard Bruton supported Ms Naughten in her stance that party politics were hindering the work of the committee.

Speaking after the meeting, the chairman of Fine Gael parliamentary party Martin Heydon said the future work of the committee could also be hindered.

“The meeting heard that the opposition were attempting to delay the work of the Climate Action Committee and the capital projects across the country that are committed to in Project Ireland 2040.

“The committee must provide a cross party report to the Climate Action Minister Richard Bruton for his cross departmental action plan but it is feared public sessions of the committee could be further delayed by opposition antics.”

The meeting also heard of two promotions for party members. Tony McLoughlin, a TD for Sligo-Leitrim, has been appointed Assistant Government Chief Whip and Peter Burke, a TD for Longford-Westmeath, becomes Fine Gael whip.

Galway East Independent TD Seán Canney stepped down as Assistant Government Whip last year, saying his remaining in the position had “become a distraction” from his priority which was to serve his constituents. The post carries an annual allowance of €15,000.