Minister defends driving 2.5-litre BMW despite climate fears
Minister Kevin 'Boxer' Moran has defended driving a 2.5-litre BMW and owning five taxis, saying people in rural Ireland still need diesel cars.
The minister has backed a €6 hike to carbon tax in the Budget - but insisted his Government colleagues need to be conscious that change outside of urban areas will be slow.
He said there wasn't a single genuinely electric vehicle in Ireland, as the cars on the market were all battery-powered.
Speaking on Independent.ie's 'Floating Voter' podcast, Mr Moran revealed Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil were discussing an increase to the carbon tax of "about €7.25".
"I felt it was too much. I didn't agree with it and I wanted to ring-fence a package for the midlands," he said.
The Longford/Westmeath TD, who owns a taxi firm in Athlone, is being credited with securing a €31m fund for the region which is one of the first to bare the brunt of climate action.
Already hundreds of jobs related to the peat industry have been lost, and there are fears for hundreds more at Bord na Móna.
Changes to the carbon tax led to what sources described as a furious row between Mr Moran and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe in the hours before Budget 2020.
But Mr Moran says they reached a compromise and remain "as friends".
"I get on extremely well with the man. Any partnership government has many ups and down. Paschal and I discussed it and we ironed things out," he said.
Mr Moran said he had to fight back against a larger increase to the carbon tax but fully accepted the need for movement.
"I'm 100pc in tune in relation to everything that is going on with the environment," he said. "At the moment you can't have Government pushing people and forget about what is out there in rural Ireland.
"The facilities are not there. The services are not there."
He added: "We have to come together. I heard someone in my own constituency talking on radio the other day about it being way too much. I knocked on that person's door during the local election and they were voting Green."
Also on the podcast, EY's head of tax Kevin McLoughlin analyses Budget 2020, concluding: "There is a danger of getting overly-distracted by Brexit.
"How well are we fixed to plug the gaps in revenue with Brexit or other international events? There's not a whole lot left there in terms of levers."