Wednesday 16 October 2019

Eating less meat over climate is ‘crazy’, says Healy-Rae

TD involved in heated exchange on air with RTÉ's Boucher-Hayes

Opinion: Michael Healy-Rae. Photo: Frank McGrath
Opinion: Michael Healy-Rae. Photo: Frank McGrath
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae has claimed that avoiding meat to help the climate is "crazy" and has become a "fad".

Like his brother Danny, he is vehemently opposed to suggestions that the population should reduce its consumption of meat and dairy.

"You're telling people so that if we don't all stop eating meat, the world is going to end as we know it. I think that's a load of absolute rubbish. I don't mean that in a dismissive way, it's my honest opinion," he said.

"The world has continued up until now with people eating what they wanted to eat, and this seems to be a new fad at the moment, telling people, well, it's really all our fault because we're eating too much meat... I think that's crazy."

Mr Healy-Rae appeared on RTÉ Radio One during a sometimes heated debate on veganism and climate change.

It follows a new Eat-'Lancet' Commission report that warns that meat consumption worldwide must be slashed by 90pc to avert climate catastrophe.

"We're a farming country, the backbone of our history has been agriculture," he said.

"And there is nothing wrong with people eating meat and for people to come out today with a report saying that we should cut back on our meat consumption by 90pc and trying to encourage people to stop drinking milk and using dairy produce, I think that's outrageous."

When it was put to the TD that the report relied on facts while he only held an opinion, he replied: "Well, I'll tell you now about science, if you go back on history, there are different people holding different views on facts all throughout the history pages.

"I'm just telling you that I don't agree with it."

At one point he told presenter Philip Boucher-Hayes that you "brought me on to the programme to insult me" and to "ridicule me".

"You're perfectly entitled to do so because you're in charge of the microphone," he said.

"I'm not trying to ridicule you, I'm just trying to hold you to account," replied Mr Boucher-Hayes, who had pointed out that Mr Healy-Rae was a lawmaker with certain responsibilities. "If you're factually incorrect, I'm going to correct you," he told the TD.

"We've done this 'balanced programme' nonsense when it comes to climate change for years ... not when it comes to accepted, proven measured facts," said Mr Boucher-Hayes. "There is no case to be made for presenting the other side any longer."

The debate followed Danny Healy-Rae criticising Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who this week admitted he was aiming to cut back on meat consumption.

Danny Healy-Rae said workers needed a meat-based meal like "bacon and cabbage" to get them through the day.

Meanwhile, farming groups have insisted the 'Lancet' report failed to recognise carbon-efficient production in Ireland.

President of the Irish Farmer's Association Joe Healy said: "We have very efficient food production systems in Ireland from a climate perspective. We are the most carbon-efficient dairy producer in Europe and amongst the top five in beef. "

Irish Independent

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