Collins slams climate action as ‘anti-rural’

May 8th, 2023 8:00 AM

By Siobhan Cronin

Independent TD Michael Collins has vowed to fight against plans to tackle climate change.(Photo: Andy Gibson)

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CORK South West TD Michael Collins has launched a strong attack on the government’s climate action policies, describing them as ‘deeply damaging’ to rural communities.

The Goleen TD, a member of the Rural Independent grouping in the Dáil, has vowed to fight against the government’s plans to tackle climate change.

‘As Rural Independent TDs we see a realisation across Ireland that climate policies are deeply damaging to rural communities and regions,’ he said, in a statement.

The deputy made the attack on climate policies two days after his brother, county mayor Cllr Danny Collins, launched Cork County Council’s new Climate Action Plan and an evidence-based report.

But Deputy Collins was unapologetic about his stance.

‘We have been the only Dáil grouping to oppose the government’s climate action legislation in 2021. Unfortunately, the disconnect is clear as rural communities have not been consulted or listened to by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, or the Green Party, despite such communities bearing the brunt of the pain from these policies,’ he said.

‘The Irish electorate deserves better. They deserve a government that is not afraid to stand up against the well-resourced lobbying power of the green agenda by putting ordinary people in rural communities first,’ he added.

Meanwhile, the report from Cork County Council included some startling findings, including that sea levels in the Cork Harbour area have risen by approximately 40cm since 1842; the highest temperature on record in the county was 31.6 Celsius, recorded on June 18th 2018 in Glengarriff, and the Rosscarbery flood of 2020 involved 230mm of rainfall, the highest recorded in the county since 1961.

The report also predicts an increase in heatwaves and droughts, with coastal flooding and erosion likely to become more frequent, unless action is taken to reduce emissions. 

Cork County Council is now seeking public engagement on the first stage of its new climate plan. 

‘The consultation will inform how we can best tackle the challenges posed by our changing climate, while working to meet national targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,’ it said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Collins said that, along with fellow independent TDs Mattie McGrath and Richard O’Donoghue, he has been ‘quietly interviewing’ potential candidates for the local and European elections next year. 

‘Our objective is to be a voice for change for rural communities, by running over 20 general election candidates in the next general election, while revolutionising the Irish political landscape.

‘Rural areas in Ireland have been reeling under the weight of new factors that emerged over the past three years. 

‘Skyrocketing transport costs, the pandemic, soaring inflation, the sluggish economic growth fuelled by a two-tier domestic versus multinational economy, and the ill-conceived net-zero policies have all dealt a severe blow to farmers and rural communities,’ he added.

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