Saturday 19 October 2019

Philip Ryan on the Green Party: 'First they come for your votes and then they come for your taxes, cars and beef burgers'

Eamon Ryan,TD,the Green Party leader at Leinster House. Pic Tom Burke
Eamon Ryan,TD,the Green Party leader at Leinster House. Pic Tom Burke
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

The Green Party looks set to be the success story of this weekend’s elections.

Almost one in ten (9pc) people voted for Green candidates in the local elections while the party could possibly land three seats in the European Parliament, if the RTE/Red C opinion poll is to be believed.

Saoirse McHugh
Saoirse McHugh

If this transpires, it would be a record-breaking day at the polls for Green Party leader Eamon Ryan.

But how did this happen and when did the electorate become so environmentally conscious?

Only a short five years ago, the Green Party received little more than 1pc of the vote in the 2014 local elections.

Back then, the Greens were the only Opposition party who supported Fine Gael and Labour Party’s plan to introduce water charges. 

Ciarán Cuffe. Picture: Doug O'Connor
Ciarán Cuffe. Picture: Doug O'Connor

The Coalition, of course, was hammered by voters for their botched handling of the water chargers debacle.

Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and the hard left all campaigned against the single most progressive green policy put forward by a government in recent years.

As we know, the public didn’t want water charges so the idea was eventually scrapped during the negotiations to form the current Fine Gael led minority government.

And now a significant chunk of the electorate has supposedly gone green. But do they know what they have voted for?

Do they realise that first the Greens come for your votes, and then they come for your taxes, cars and beef burgers?

The name should give it away but you’d never know. The breakdown of the Green vote will undoubtedly be urban, middle class and young.

Essentially, people who can afford to vote with the environment to the fore of their mind.

Should the Green Party become a minor player in a future government, which on today’s results is highly possible, they are likely to insist on policies which would hit voters in the pocket.

For example the party’s European election manifesto calls for a "European climate law, with binding carbon budgets reducing emissions by at least 55pc by 2030 and building a net-zero emissions economy."

That’s going to take a lot of carbon taxes to achieve. They also want non-recyclable plastics taxed heavily or banned completely. Someone has to pay for that too.

The Greens also want a European flight tax and VAT on airline tickets so that’s the cost of your two weeks in Grand Canaria going up.

However, they do want to reduce income taxes.

In the early stages of this election campaign, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was forced to deny he was a vegan after he said he was planning to cut down his meat consumption.

The Taoiseach’s comments led to angry protests in Cork by the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) where demonstrators chanted "where’s the beef, ye vegan" at Mr Varadkar.

Yet, today the party that openly campaigned on a platform of reducing meat consumption is getting on the plaudits.

The Greens also want to introduce supporters to encourage farmers to produce non-meat based products.

A series of apocaylptic reports on climate change and the worrying state of our planet have undoubtedly shifted the public’s conscious on green issues.

Whether they are willing to put their hands in their pockets to help save the planet is a question they may have answer soon.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News