Healy-Rae's climate comments go against tide of local opinion in Kerry
A senior cleric in Kerry has urged his local TD Danny Healy-Rae to read Pope Francis's cyclical on climate change.
Scholar, author and poet Monsignor Pádraig Ó Fiannachta spoke out after Mr Healy-Rae had dismissed the notion of climate change in a Dáil speech last week, saying: "God alone controls the weather." The Dingle priest described his comments as "unhelpful".
"His view that climate change is not happening is simply not a fact," said Mgr Ó Fiannachta. "It is clearly happening. The polar ice caps are melting, water levels are rising and this is affecting poor people in the poorest parts of the world the most.
"And it's even happening in our own little corner of the world. I would like to think that Danny would have a look around him and open his eyes. He has his ears to the ground and knows what people think and the ordinary people are very much aware of this."
Ballylongford in north Kerry has been one of the areas worst affected by flooding.
Local publican Michael Finucane said he didn't have the scientific knowledge to comment on climate change, but said: "I'm 67 and I've seen the tide levels rise since I was a child and there is a lot of land in Kerry that has been washed away.
"There used to be a fishing weir at Clounnaman Strand but the tide has now come in about 250 metres beyond that.
"There must be something going on. The polar ice caps are melting at a phenomenal rate. I would not be qualified to make a comment but you'd want to be fairly well up on things before you could," he added.
Danny Healy-Rae's former colleague on Kerry County Council, Independent councillor Michael Cahill, accused him of "clowning around" in the Dáil.
However, he commended Mr Healy-Rae for prompting a national discussion on the issue - even if it has come about in his trademark headline-grabbing way.
He said: "I think it's very unhelpful to tell people it's the will of God when the evidence of climate change is irrefutable and we've seen first-hand evidence of it in places like Rossbeigh, Cromane, Tralee and the Maherees.
"It's not just coastal flooding, it's also inland flooding in places like Kenmare, Glenflesk and Killorglin, where homes and businesses have been destroyed.
"Danny's remarks have brought it to national prominence really but what he's saying is very unhelpful and facts are facts."