RTÉ’s climate coverage ‘unfair on rural Ireland’ – Fitzmaurice

RTÉ’s schedule of programming covering climate change, which has been running throughout this week, has been criticised as being “unfair on rural Ireland”.

Michael Fitzmaurice, an independent TD for Roscommon-Galway, argued that the national broadcaster has singled out rural areas for criticism, and has mooted unrealistic measures for combating climate change.

“It seems as if an accusing finger is always being pointed at rural Ireland for all it is supposedly doing wrong,” the TD said.

People have to live and work in rural Ireland. It cannot be totally sacrificed for people who live within the boundary of the M50 or other large cities.

Among the measures criticised by Fitzmaurice is forestry.

“There is plenty of talk about planting, planting and more planting… But, the fact is, a lot of plantings are being held up at the moment because of European court rulings and objections by so-called environmentalists.

“Are we going to see rural towns and villages decimated because nobody wants to live in the shadows of countless forests of Sitka spruce?” he asked.

Fitzmaurice also raised concerns that the agricultural sector would take the hit from climate mitigation measures.

“Exports from the agri-food sector amounted to almost €14 billion in 2018. Are we going to sacrifice this in the name of allegedly saving the planet?” he commented.

Peat power plant closures

“In the past week, we already have seen how this Government is content to wipe out the midlands by backing the closure of two peat-powered plants at the end of 2020 – in an effort to get a gold star from Europe for their efforts,” Fitzmaurice observed.

While of course there are measures we can take to play our part across a number of sectors – including agriculture – we have to remain realistic of the influence any of our changes will have globally.

“If this Government is allowed to continue on its current course, it will transform rural Ireland into a wilderness to act as a carbon sink for the rest of the country – unless the people who live there turn out in force when it comes to polling day,” the TD warned.

Politics

“The people of Ireland need to take a step back and see where the two main political parties in this country have brought us to over the past 100 years. We have seen what they have done to Bord na Móna in recent times, in the new trend of bowing to the ‘green agenda’. The next thing they will be pushing for is a cull of the national livestock herd,” Fitzmaurice argued.

People in rural Ireland are fed up of this Government’s lack of action when it comes to losing key employers and services… And then, to top it all off, they are faced with the national broadcaster continuously pointing the finger – despite a lot of rural dwellers living very sustainable lives.

“We need to remember that we have a right to question and challenge the agenda being pushed upon us. People are afraid to question things now for fear of being vilified… It is high time that a stop is put to the vilification of rural Ireland and agriculture in this manner,” he concluded.

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