I have to say I like Eamon Ryan. Even though I would disagree with a lot of his policies, I’ve always seen him as well-educated, a good speaker, reasoned and calm. Until last week, that is. Last week he made a suggestion on TV…that there could be twenty of thirty cars parked in a typical Irish village, and that residents could book one of those vehicles when they wanted to go somewhere. This rural carpooling arrangement has to go down as the daftest suggestion I have heard in many years.
The Green Party leader obviously has no understanding whatsoever of the reality of rural life, of how we have to live from day to day. Many people, including yours truly, get up early in the morning and have a long commute to work. I would need a car every single day from ‘the pool’, and so would many others. Public transport in most rural areas is simply not an option.
Apart from that, there are insurance issues to be factored in. There would also be issues with regard to fuel costs, not to mention further unresolvable problems. If this is the best that the Green movement can come up with, then we are truly in trouble.
As predicted, the carbon tax increases saw two cent being added to the price of a litre of petrol and diesel last week. That is on top on an 8-cent increase in the previous month (due to other factors). The bottom line is that it is becoming dearer and dearer for people to live and work in rural areas – and nothing positive is being done about it.
I know that it has been pointed out already, but a decade ago people were urged (and incentivised) by the Government to buy diesel cars because they were supposed to be better for the environment than petrol vehicles. We know how that has turned out. I would love to be able to buy a monthly train ticket and travel in comfort to work with someone else doing the driving, but it’s never going to happen.
This climate change problem is real and it has to be tackled. But a plan such as the one Eamon Ryan put forward last week is simply unworkable. The powers that be need to be realistic about what they want for rural Ireland in the future. We need more imaginative plans for rural dwellers when tackling this issue.
The turmoil around the world and the impending likely departure of the UK from the EU will mean another hike in carbon taxes for everyone. Those living in the bigger urban areas will be better able to withstand that development because of the many public transport options they have – but the rural dweller will get hit hard every time there’s an increase.
I suspect that if there wasn’t an election on the way, the carbon tax increase in the recent Budget would have been far greater than €6 per ton. The Government have promised that they will increase the tax to €80 per ton by 2030. The increases will be much bigger as time goes on.
It looks like the Greens may well have a presence in Government after the next election. They will have to come up with better suggestions that Eamon Ryan’s carpooling plan if they want to garner a significant rural vote.