The political realities of the so-called “Turf War” go deeper than the plight of rural residents trying to heat their homes.
at play here is an ideological struggle between the civil war factions and their more ecologically progressive green counterparts.
It is not the first time, and it will not be the last, that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael backbenchers have become furious at the policies of their climate-conscious coalition partners.
Even ahead of the last general election, John Paul Phelan, TD of Fine Gael, reportedly said at a meeting of the local Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) that some members of the Green party were “crazy”.
The comment was well received by farmers – but angered some of the more thin-skinned Greens.
But just weeks later, Phelan’s Fine Gael colleagues were embroiled in government-forming negotiations with some of those he might have thought insane.
The Greens were certainly the big winners in the talks that led to the historic tripartite coalition.
The government program is packed with commitments to tackle the climate crisis.
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael TDs were reticent, to say the least, about many of the environmental commitments in the document – but the allure of power was too strong and they signed the deal, electing Taoiseach Michael Martin to power.
The implications of these commitments became clear soon after the coalition took office.
The Greens were serious about rolling out their policy and didn’t want to wait to get their job done.
Given their coalition experience, the view seems to be that putting so much into the time you have in office is unlikely to get you a second bite of the cherry.
So while they are in place, they will save the planet or – electively speaking – die trying.
This includes drastic reductions in carbon emissions with significant changes in how the country is run and how our taxes are spent.
A major change in the use of infrastructure funds was already a bone of contention.
Greens are not big fans of streets. They don’t want you driving around burning fuel and destroying the planet.
Just last October, Fianna Fáil, TD James O’Connor, threatened to resign from his party over a street in his constituency that was left out of the National Development Plan.
The much needed Limerick to Cork motorway was a major issue and the fact that the leader of the Green Party Eamon Ryan His transport minister is a source of frustration for many in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
There was even controversy over cheese – specifically Glanbia’s plans for their new cheese factory in Kilkenny.
Environmental watchdog An Taisce filed a lawsuit against An Bord Pleanála’s decision to give the green light to the project. That sparked trouble from under the back benches of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, with the Taoiseach even interfering.
For their part, the Greens have criticized their government colleagues for poking their noses into a legal dispute.
The political row du jour is turf. It started after Ryan revealed he planned to ban it along with other smoke charcoals as a fuel. His approach to the ban was very blunt, failing to take into account the mostly elderly rural dwellers who have relied on lawns to heat their homes for decades.
Fianna Fáil and the Fine Gael TDs have not hidden their anger, and Mayo TD Michael Ring gave both barrels to Ryan at a meeting on Tuesday. It’s time to find a solution, but it hasn’t been found yet. Ryan is a pragmatic politician, even if some of his Green colleagues are not. And many more ideological climate disputes will follow.
The government will soon have to agree on CO2 targets for agriculture, transport and other industries. Then they need to outline specific actions each sector needs to take to achieve those goals.
It will not be easy and there will be very few winners from the process, especially in rural communities. All three parties will need to keep their nerve to get it over the line.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/coalitions-simmering-frustration-boils-over-into-a-new-turf-war-41594878.html The coalition’s smoldering frustration boils over in a new “turf war.”