Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has launched a broadside against Shane Ross describing him as “possibly the worst Minister for Transport that I’ve ever seen and that’s saying something”.
Speaking as the party published its transport policy, Mr Ryan said he did not want to be personal but there had been a complete absence of any “decision making, any leadership, any initiative, any interest” in the area.
The Dublin Bay South TD said the voters would decide but if recent opinion polls reflected reality, one in 10 people would vote Green and on that basis they could win 15 seats.
He said they had 39 candidates and “everyone of them I think would be able to step up to the plate and do a better job than Minister Ross”.
Mr Ross has been contacted for his response to Mr Ryan’s comments.
In its transport proposals, the Green Party is considering a “frequent flyer” levy. Dublin Bay North candidate Cllr David Healy said the first two flights a person takes would be tax free under the policy but those taking multiple flights “would find the tax quite high”.
Closed railway lines
Dublin Fingal TD Joe O’Brien said the party would review Ireland’s rail network from 100 years ago, which ran to nearly every part of the country, to determine if closed lines could be redeveloped.
Its proposals also include a re-organisation of the Department of Transport, which the party believes is “simply incapable” at present of addressing the issue of carbon emissions, which have trebled for road transport in the past 30 years.
The party would invest 10 per cent of the transport capital budget in walking infrastructure and a further 10 per cent in cycling, said Cllr Patrick Costello, a Dublin South Central candidate.
Dublin Central candidate Neasa Hourigan said one in 10 people walk to work, while the EU average was five in 10.
The Green Party says it would not fund the long-promised upgrade and expansion of the A5 from Donegal to Derry despite it being a priority cross-border project.
Mr Ryan said the part would instead seek to restore rail connections to that part of that country “and that might also enhance the development of all those other counties in between”.
Clare candidate Cllr Róisín Garvey said rural communities were car reliant and there needed to be a better bus service and more options for rural transport.
“If you design for cars you get cars. If you design for people you get people,” she said.
Asked about Mayo candidate Saoirse McHugh’s opposition to the carbon tax, which the party favours, Mr Ryan said the Green Party allowed different views but that ultimately the parliamentary party would decide “what happens next”.