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A Coalition of fuel guzzlers: only three Government ministers use electric vehicles


Transport Minister Eamon Ryan on his bicycle. Photo: Mark Condren/File photo

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan on his bicycle. Photo: Mark Condren/File photo

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan on his bicycle. Photo: Mark Condren/File photo

Ministers are still failing to lead the way on the switch to electric vehicles as the majority hold on to their petrol and diesel cars.

Just two ministers and one junior minister – all from the Green Party – use fully electric cars for their official business.

Two others have hybrids and several say they will change to electric, or at least consider the move, when they next change their car.

Others would make no such commitment and some declined to comment at all.

Some senior Cabinet members said the decision had been taken out of their hands because, for security reasons, they had State vehicles and garda drivers.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Defence Minister Simon Coveney have garda transport.

A decision was taken late last year to extend the arrangement to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath after gardaí warned of security concerns relating to their work.

Garda headquarters has a policy of moving towards clean-energy vehicles and has deployed several dozen fully electric and hybrid cars in a limited number of roles, with intentions to expand their use.

Three hybrids are available for VIP duties but it says fully electric vehicles “are not yet considered a practical solution for security sensitive duties”.

Under the Climate Action Plan, there is a target to have close to one million electric and hybrid vehicles on the road by 2030.

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While numbers are increasing, fully electric vehicles made up just 7pc of new cars bought in Ireland last year.

A series of campaigns will be developed under the soon-to-be-established Office for Low Emission Vehicles to encourage consumers and industry to go electric with car choices.

The Climate Action Plan sets out a special role for the public sector in this regard, stressing all public agencies, bodies and services should be “leading by example”.

Leadership from the top is somewhat lacking, however.

Climate Action and Transport Minister Eamon Ryan is known for using his bicycle or public transport for travelling to work and official events.

His department said: “However, the minister drives his own private electric vehicle when needed.”

Tourism Minister Catherine Martin also has an electric car, as does Junior Public Expenditure Minister Ossian Smyth. All are Green Party ministers.

Fine Gael Junior Transport Minister Hildegarde Naughton, meanwhile, drives a hybrid, as does Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman of the Green Party.

Junior Sport Minister Jack Chambers, of Fianna Fáil, has a diesel car but his office said he “will consider upgrading to a hybrid or electric whenever he next changes his car”.

Party colleague, Anne Rabbitte, who is the Junior Children’s Minister, also has a diesel car but her office said: “She is currently considering a move to hybrid or electric.”

The Department of Education said both Education Minister Norma Foley, also Fianna Fáil, and Junior Special Education Minister Josepha Madigan, of Fine Gael, had diesel cars. “Minister Madigan is hoping to change to hybrid or electric in the future,” it said.

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage would not give details for the cars used by Minister Darragh O’Brien or junior ministers Peter Burke and Malcolm Noonan because, it said, they were private vehicles and therefore a “private matter”.

No replies were received to queries in relation to the cars used by Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris or Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys.

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