This column may alienate my loyal rural audience, but I will insist because all I have to offer is my honest opinion. If the Cabinet took the same approach, we would all be better off.
You see, governing is hard. But governments must govern. That means making decisions and implementing them. A country, indeed every organization, fails without decisions.
Fortunately, voters prefer authority to anarchy. There’s no great mystery about the attraction of strong leaders. Or indeed, strong women.
Of course, it’s almost impossible to make a decision that doesn’t affect anyone. For this reason, John Stuart Mill called his moral framework the Greatest Happiness Principle, not the Universal Happiness Principle.
If governments refuse to implement a policy because someone is unhappy about it, nothing would ever happen.
Take this latest slap about turf.
Ministers tie themselves in knots to ban the sale of peat, but not really.
Eamon Ryan wants this kind of ban to continue, but Leo Varadkar, under pressure from rural TDs, speaks of a pause. The last politician to mention “pause” was the Taoiseach – who immediately pulled the rug out from under them Tony Holohan. Pause is the weak man’s turn. Where’s the leadership? The determination?
Have they forgotten the praise heaped on Mary Harney for banning smoked charcoal in Dublin? Or Micheál Martin himself for the smoking ban? Or Noel Dempsey for the plastic bag tax? All done despite howls of objections.
Apparently they have, because the entire cabinet folds in the face of the rural granny, who will freeze to death without a lawn. Grandmas are often portrayed as the unfortunate victims of government atrocities, although every grandma I’ve ever known has held her own.
I don’t buy the granny line. If rural grannies can only afford peat, how do urban grannies stay warm? Everyone gets the same fuel flat rate – this year more than €1,100. But in the name of the rural grandmother, an industry is to be preserved that should have collapsed decades ago.
Burning turf, let alone selling it, is insane.
It’s the biggest pollutant in the atmosphere, an act of ecological vandalism, and the fumes are lethal. When we read about climate change every day, why are we still talking about lawns?
Before anyone blames this columnist for losing touch, I spent my hours with Revier. As teenagers we were drawn to the moors to tread lawns. Bent in two, lifting sods encrusted with thistles and standing them up to optimize drying. Then, weeks later, loading and unloading trailers. The best part was being out on the moor among the wild flowers on those summer evenings and hearing the cuckoo. Yes, we admired this beautiful habitat even as we helped destroy it.
Every year the kitchen had to be painted because smoke and dust from the solid fuel stove destroyed the walls. The dirt on these walls is getting on the nerves of rural Ireland. The European Environment Agency (EEA) estimates that 1,300 people die prematurely in Ireland each year from inhaling solid fuel fumes.
When lawn entrepreneurs make the case for the rural granny on whom their business depends, Eamon Ryan should be asking them, “Are they really trying to hurt her with lawn smoke?”
Peatlands are the most important long-term carbon store on earth. When we destroy a bog, we destroy the carbon pool and release it into the atmosphere, triggering climate change.
In bad times we could forgive the destruction of the moors. But there is no excuse for that now. Because despite what someone wants to tell you, this is one of the richest countries on earth.
Emotional claims that rural Ireland is being discriminated against are nonsense.
Smoking charcoal was banned in Dublin 30 years ago. I still remember washing the sooty smog out of my hair back then. Extending the ban on these dirty fuels to the rest of Ireland is therefore not discrimination.
A better argument could be made that the health of the rural population was endangered by political cowardice for not extending the ban sooner. Is life in the city worth more than life in the country? How is anyone discriminated against when the law applies to everyone?
But the Greens also feel the need to give in to narratives of “cultural tradition”. I don’t understand the argument that just because something has always been done, we have to keep doing it. If that were true, there would be no moral progress. When the Enlightenment tells us that a “tradition” is objectively bad, then we should stop.
Or maybe Brazilian farmers should keep logging the Amazon forest. After all, it’s tradition.
When will we accept that everything we do has to change? Bicycles must be given space on the street once reserved for cars. Walls in housing estates must be torn down to allow pedestrians to take shortcuts. Eating meat three times a day and drinking cheap milk is no longer possible. Wind farms need to be built even if it ruins the view.
And last time I checked, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights mentions no rights for tourists at Daingean and a car park at Sandymount.
O for a politician to acknowledge these realities and stop giving in to the victimology of people who say they care for the earth but refuse to endure the inconvenience of saving it. Burning peat may be cheaper for some people, but it costs us all.
The earth does not burn by itself. We burn it grass for grass.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/this-is-not-a-granny-state-things-have-to-change-including-the-burning-of-our-turf-41594593.html This is not a grandma condition. Things have to change, including burning our turf