Tuesday 19 February 2019

Fine Gael debates how to bring in a carbon tax and not lose votes

Minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
John Downing

John Downing

Fine Gael TDs will today discuss how to navigate the introduction of a carbon tax without losing votes in upcoming local, European and general elections.

As the Dáil returns tomorrow, the party's TDs and senators will gather in Dublin today to hear how the Government will tackle Ireland's international reputation as "laggards" in introducing measures to tackle climate change.

The party will hear reports from Environment Minister Richard Bruton, who is responsible for climate change response policies, and Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, whose sector is deemed responsible for a third of Irish carbon emissions.

Mr Bruton has promised a report from all ministerial departments next month in an effort to frame an overall government response to the issue.

Having faced huge criticism in October for failing to address the issue in this year's Budget, everyone accepts that action must be taken.

But the issue dovetails neatly with the other agenda item at the day-long meetings: the local council and European Parliament elections due on May 24, and a general election likely next year.

Party chairman Martin Heydon said the meeting will focus on Ireland's response to climate change. "The focus will be on measures to change people's behaviour - not raise revenue," Mr Heydon said.

Fine Gael lost 110 council seats in the last local elections in 2014 and hopes to reverse that in May. The meeting will be addressed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Junior minister John Paul Phelan, who is director of local elections.

There will also be a contribution from Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, named as director of organisation last month and likely to be director of elections for the general election in 2020.

Irish Independent

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