Electric vehicles: A coalition of gas guzzlers – only three government ministers use electric vehicles


Ministers are still unable to push ahead with the switch to electric vehicles as the majority stick to their petrol and diesel cars.

Only two ministers and one undersecretary – all from the Greens – use fully electric cars for their official business.

Two others have hybrids and several say they will switch to electric or at least consider moving next time they switch cars.

Others would make no such commitment and some declined to comment at all.

Some senior cabinet members said the decision was taken out of their hands because they had state vehicles and Garda drivers for security reasons.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Attorney General Helen McEntee and Defense Secretary Simon Coveney have a Garda transport.

Late last year it was decided to extend the agreement to Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly, Treasury Secretary Paschal Donohoe and Public Expenditure Secretary Michael McGrath after gardaí warned of safety concerns surrounding their work.

Garda Headquarters has a policy of switching to clean energy vehicles and has deployed several dozen all-electric and hybrid cars in a limited number of roles, with plans to expand their deployment.

Three hybrids are available for VIP duties, but it says all-electric vehicles “are not yet seen as a practical solution for safety-sensitive duties.”

The climate protection plan envisages having almost one million electric and hybrid vehicles on the road by 2030.

While the numbers are rising, all-electric vehicles accounted for just 7 per cent of new cars bought in Ireland last year.

A series of campaigns are being developed as part of the soon-to-be-established Bureau of Low Emission Vehicles to encourage consumers and industry to switch to electric car choices.

In this respect, the climate protection plan defines a special role for the public sector and emphasizes that all public bodies, institutions and services should “lead by example”.

However, leadership from above is somewhat lacking.

Climate Protection and Transport Secretary Eamon Ryan is known for using his bike or public transport to get to work and official events.

His department said: “However, the minister drives his own private electric vehicle if necessary.”

Tourism Minister Catherine Martin also has an electric car, as does Ossian Smyth, junior minister for public spending. All are Ministers of the Greens.

Fine Gael’s junior transport minister, Hildegarde Naughton, meanwhile, drives a hybrid, as does Green Party children’s minister Roderic O’Gorman.

Fianna Fáil’s junior sport minister, Jack Chambers, has a diesel car, but his office said he would “consider upgrading to a hybrid or electric any time he next changes his car”.

Party colleague Anne Rabbitte, the junior children’s minister, also has a diesel car, but her office said: “She is currently considering a switch to hybrid or electric.”

The Education Department said both Education Minister Norma Foley, Fianna Fáil, and Fine Gael Junior Special Education Minister Josepha Madigan have diesel cars. “Minister Madigan hopes to be able to switch to hybrid or electric in the future,” it said.

The Department for Housing, Local Government and Heritage declined to give details of the cars used by Minister Darragh O’Brien or junior ministers Peter Burke and Malcolm Noonan because they were private vehicles and therefore a “private matter”.

No response was received to questions about the cars used by Agriculture Secretary Charlie McConalogue, Higher Education Secretary Simon Harris or Social Security Secretary Heather Humphreys. Electric vehicles: A coalition of gas guzzlers – only three government ministers use electric vehicles

Fry Electronics Team

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