'Carpooling won't work for me,' says new Green senator

Pippa Hackett says there’s a ‘new shade of Green now’. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Pippa Hackett says there’s a ‘new shade of Green now’. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Fionnán Sheahan

Fionnán Sheahan

She's the new rural Green from a two-car household who adds a "new shade" to a predominantly urban party.

Today, Pippa Hackett becomes the Green Party's only senator as she enters Leinster House.

The Green Party's spokesperson on agriculture lives on a farm outside Geashill, Co Offaly, with her husband and four children.

Her party leader Eamon Ryan reckons the likes of her could be carpooling with neighbours in rural areas.

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But she told the Irish Independent: "The carpooling: I don't think that's going to be an option for anyone I know. We live three miles from the local village. We need to get the kids to school. The roads are in a bad old way.

"I need my car. We tow trailers for cattle and sheep. I would consider getting an electric car."

Mr Ryan's gaffes on carpooling and releasing wolves into the wild reinforced the view the Greens only view the world through an urban prism.

The new senator admits the party has to be more in tune with rural Ireland. She points to the new councillors elected around the country this year.

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"There's a new shade of Green now. There is a shift in how we are perceived. But we will have to ruralise more of our policies," she says.

Ms Hackett and her husband, Mark, run a mixed organic farm with suckler cows, sheep, hens and horses.

Originally from Ballindine in Co Mayo, she holds a BSc in Agriculture from the University of Essex, a postgraduate diploma from University College Dublin, and a PhD from the University of Limerick (UL).

She was an academic researcher in UL until she left to rear her children, who now range in ages from eight to 16.

In May she became the first Green councillor on Offaly County Council. She takes up the Seanad seat vacated by the Greens' Grace O'Sullivan, who was elected as an MEP.

Ms Hackett was elected unopposed as Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil decided not to contest the by-election in a gesture to the Greens.

The 45-year-old joins Mr Ryan and deputy leader Catherine Martin on the Greens' small team in the Oireachtas.

Ms Hackett's primary focus is on the future of farming. She questions what the agriculture sector is doing to differentiate itself in a global market.

She says the focus has to be the quality of the food being produced.

She supports the Greens' opposition to live animal exports, but accepts it would have to be phased out.

Ms Hackett opposes bloodsports, like coursing, and is critical of Culture Minister Josepha Madigan for lifting a ban on hare netting.

Irish Independent

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