Sale of AIB shares could fund green infrastructure, says Labour

Labour will ringfence €1bn to replace Ireland’s public bus fleet, set up a cycle-to-school scheme, and expand the better energy warmer homes scheme to retrofit 225,000 homes, in a bid to promote the green economy in the next government.

The plans were launched by Energy Minister Alex White as he failed to rule out challenging Tánaiste Joan Burton as leader, should the party lose power.

Under its pre-election policy document — which does not contain any reference to the recent COP21 world climate change commitments — Labour intends to set up a €1bn green infrastructure fund, half of which will be paid for by selling 25% of the State’s AIB shares.

This money will be used to set up a subsidised cycle-to-school scheme, replace public transport buses with more environmentally friendly alternatives, and retrofit 225,000 homes.

Mr White dismissed concerns that the COP21 agreement is not referenced “on every page”, saying that it is the “driving force” behind the document.

The green economy policy document launch also saw the energy minister repeatedly questioned over his leadership ambitions.

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With latest polls suggesting that the Coalition will not be re-elected without the support of other parties or Independents, it has been claimed Mr White may challenge Ms Burton, should Labour fail to regain power.

Mr White said he and Ms Burton have a “terrific relationship” but did not rule out the possibility.

After Environment Minister Alan Kelly said last weekend, “you’re your own boss really,” Ms Burton responded by joking that Mr Kelly is an “incredibly obedient employee”. Asked if he should expect the same response, Mr White quoted Margaret Thatcher, saying Ms Burton is “primus inter pares”or first among equals.


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