Sunday 15 September 2019

Ministers stay silent on whether they'll drive electric cars

Leinster House
Leinster House
Hugh O'Connell

Hugh O'Connell

The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Cabinet ministers are refusing to say if and when they will switch to electric or hybrid cars in an effort to combat climate change.

Of the 15 members of the Cabinet, only Transport Minister Shane Ross and Climate Change Minister Richard Bruton have ditched their petrol or diesel cars.

Mr Ross has a full electric vehicle (EV), while Mr Bruton has a hybrid that runs on petrol and electricity.

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone confirmed she uses a diesel-run Hyundai Tucson for official duties, but she "intends that her next choice of car will be an electric model", her spokesperson said.

Other Cabinet ministers ignored queries about their plans.

A Government spokesperson issued a blanket response.

"The automatic entitlement to a State car for Government ministers was scrapped back in 2011. Ministers therefore use their own private cars for official businesses and the purchase of these cars is a matter for each individual minister," it said.

However, the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Justice Minister all retain official State cars for security reasons. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's two State cars are both BMW 740s, which run on diesel. Tánaiste Simon Coveney's main car and second vehicle are both Audi A6Q models and run on diesel, as does the Justice Minister's car, a BMW 530.

Asked when these would be switched to electric or hybrid cars, the Government was unable to provide a timeline and said An Garda Síochána was running a pilot project to examine "the feasibility of the use of hybrid or electric vehicles within the Garda fleet".

A spokesperson said: "Garda management has confirmed that two electric vehicles were purchased by An Garda Síochána in 2018, as part of a pilot project to evaluate the potential and limitations of electric vehicles in Garda operational environments."

Yesterday, the Irish Independent revealed ministers who buy EVs or hybrids can still claim existing public-­service mileage rates.

There is no specific rate in the civil service for EVs or hybrids, meaning EV drivers can claim mileage as if they are driving a petrol car. There are no plans to introduce a civil-service mileage rate for hybrids or EVs until mid-2020.

Irish Independent

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