My recent article published in the Sunday Independent:
There is no shortage of political pundits who are happy to regularly disparage the holding of constituency clinics by TDs. But, for every one of them, there are several thousand more members of the public see these weekly T.D. clinics as a vital way to engage face to face on issues of both local and national significance.
While Covid-19 did bring attendance at my weekly clinics down to zero for months at a stretch, the reduced infection rates have seen the numbers turning up at my weekly advice centres return not just to their pre-pandemic rates, but even higher.
This not too gradual surge in in-person attendance owes less to the falling virus infection rates than it does to the Green Party’s virulent campaign to make car ownership as difficult and inconvenient as possible.
My clinics have been inundated over recent months by people fearing the Green party’s determination to penalise car ownership by anyone other than those on the highest incomes.
Individual complaints range from soaring petrol and diesel prices to anti-motorist road traffic plans, to road construction cancellations. There are as many group and community complaints
The volume almost matches the number of housing and accommodation cases my office processes.
Add in the number of people who have contacted me about Minister Eamon Ryan’s suggesting a future ban on installing gas and oil burners in new and existing homes, and I reckon the Green party now drives (though it’s not a term they’d like) more casework though my office than any other single group.
Over the past month alone I have met several local deputations, some numbering over a hundred residents, expressing their firm and opposition to Green inspired efforts to close more local roads to motorised traffic.
For example, if the traffic flow proposal advocated for Bellfield and Farranshone in Limerick city had been given the go ahead it would have only succeeded in forcing the residents of the area to take longer detours to get to or from their own homes.
Would it have forced anyone out of their cars on to public transport? No. What it would do, however, would be to make them spend more time in their cars.
How is this environmentally friendly, never mind sensible? What good does requiring the people of Thomondgate and Kileely to spend more time in their cars contribute to the cause of tackling carbon emissions and reducing Global warming?
To their credit, the local officials did see sense on this proposal. They quickly realised that the overwhelming consensus of the responses being made to the non-statutory public consultation process was against the proposal and decided to abandon plans for this “filtered permeability trial”.
And what was the mature and considered response of the local green and cycling activists who pushed for the plan? Rather than welcoming this exercise in of grassroots community activism as an example of the “think locally, act globally” mantra that once motivated Friends of the Earth, they sought to deride and mock it.
They took to social media to brand those who led the local campaign as “dinosaurs”. Any other campaign, particularly ones less driven by zealotry and intransigence, would have stopped to consider why they had failed the community genuine and real local concerns and learned the importance of finding ways of bringing the public with them.
If these Green campaigns were more driven by outcomes than purism, they would avoid their local truculence and petulance which is only a few steps short of chanting “four wheels bad, two wheels good.”
The push to tackle climate change is being undermined by the self-anointed moral champions who simply cannot grasp that they must bring people along with it.
The people I met at my office do not need lectures on the need to cut Carbon emissions. They understand the problem and are ready to play their fair part.
But simply labelling every hare-brained scheme as “good for the environment” even when the people it impacts can see that it does anything, is just pointless and counterproductive as labelling people as “dinosaurs” when they call out your nonsense.