Independent candidate Peter Casey has accused the Green Party of hijacking the national environmental debate with “nonsensical policies designed to hit the poorest of rural Ireland hardest”.
Mr Casey singled out the Green Party’s regressive carbon tax proposals and its drive against Irish farmers in the guise of “ill-informed plans to reduce the national herd”.
Mr Casey said: “The Green Party is committed to increasing the cruel and regressive carbon tax each year for the next decade – from the current rate of €26 per tonne to €100 per tonne. The fact is that increasing carbon tax will simply steal more money from the pockets of those who can least afford to pay.
“Our farmers, school teachers and nurses cannot avoid filling up their tanks. People will not get far in electric cars in rural areas like Donegal, where charging stations are very few and far between. And what’s more, the electricity we use is largely produced by burning fossils fuels.
“Carbon tax is not even ring-fenced – it simply goes into the exchequer coffers. The real irony is that the revenue gathered could well end up funding the fuel for the government jet.
“Even the Green Party’s rising star Saoirse McHugh has agreed that it’s a nonsense proposition and fair play to her for that. I expect her to very shortly make a similar statement on the Greens’ plans to decimate the national suckling herd by 50%. I wouldn’t be surprised if Saoirse joins Sinn Fein at some time in the near future because of the Green Party’s ignorance of how rural Ireland actually works.
“Proposals to decimate the suckling herd is a further attack on our farmers. They are ill-informed in that they follow an EU deal to massively increase the global carbon footprint of beef by throwing open the floodgates to beef imports from Brazil.
“Moving production to Brazil – where rainforests are being razed for pasture land – will mean a Brazilian cow is at least four times less environmentally friendly than a Donegal cow.
“Price cuts, financial difficulties, veganism and global warming fears have all contributed to the crisis in Irish beef and dairy production. There are more than 9,000 farmers in Donegal and more than 38% are suckler farmers.
“Farming accounts for 43% of the landmass in Donegal, the majority of which is made up of small farmholds which are dependent on beef production and CAP payments. We all care about the environment but the answer is not to target our farmers – the people who are the backbone of rural Ireland.”