Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Timmy Dooley has said that today’s front page splash by Minister Naughten is yet another example of the Minister’s way of working – throw out a gimmicky media release and ignore the fundamental challenges in the sector.

“The 15c levy isn’t a bad idea in principal, but releasing this idea to the media in the immediate aftermath of the Citizens’ Assembly vote on Climate Action is just the Minister diverting attention away from the negatives for him in the recommendations.

“The Minister choosing to speak about plastic cups immediately belittles the comprehensive recommendations from the Citizens’ Assembly.  While I am supportive of helping everyone do their little bit for the environment, private citizens on their own cannot achieve the type of change that is needed.

“Minister Naughten has consistently shied away from the type of structural and systemic changes that are needed to make Ireland a truly green nation.

“It’s not only my party that is criticising Minister Naughten’s lethargic response to climate change.

“John Fitzgerald, of the Climate Change Advisory Council, said today that when it comes to reducing emissions, the National Mitigation Strategy lacks concrete new policies and measures. He added that we are ‘we are a laggard, not a leader.’

“It’s abundantly clear that Minister Naughten’s gimmick on plastic cups is just a smokescreen to distract from the strong criticism that is being levelled by independent experts on his strategy.

“Fianna Fáil has been persistent and vocal about the need for stronger action to reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions, including measures to increase the number of electric vehicles on the road, decarbonise the public transport system and make our homes greener.

“Yet, all we get from the Minister and his Department are gimmicky statements.

“Fianna Fáil is already working on a micro-plastics bill that would comprehensively deal with all unrecyclable, throw away tableware. Minister Naughten would be better off working with us on our bill rather than reinventing the wheel.

“The Minister, if he was doing his job properly, would be pushing ahead with a much more comprehensive roll out of electric vehicles that was unanimously supported by the Citizens’ Assembly.

“We have called for stronger incentives and supports for electric vehicles, such as grants, toll waivers, access to bus lanes for electric cars, free charging points, as well as a proper charging infrastructure.

“The Minister’s attempt to gazump the outcome of yesterday’s Citizens’ Assembly is nothing short of breath taking, even for a known media-focused politician like Minister Naughten.

“Ensuring that our country is prepared to deal with the challenges and consequences of an ever changing climate and environment must be a priority for this Government,” concluded Dooley.