Solidarity-People Before Profit has launched its “radical” manifesto on climate action with proposals to put large agri-corporations into public ownership and to impose a blanket pollution tax on airlines.
In a launch clearly tailored toward potential Green Party voters, the party vowed to “move rapidly” towards free public transport at a cost of €500 million per annum, and to close all coal and peat-fired power stations immediately with employees to be retrained on full pay.
“By your deeds shall you know them,” said party TD Richard Boyd Barrett. “We have the best record for putting forward radical environmental policies in the Dáil.
"Being green isn’t a colour or a brand, it’s about fighting for measures.”
Also included in the manifesto are measures to reduce the national dairy herd by 50%, with a commitment in terms of clean residential energy to set up a state building company to embark on a “major” retrofitting programme of the country’s housing stock.
That retrofitting proposal is pitched in tandem with an up-front State grant of €30,000 to cover the renovation costs.
People Before Profit wants to spearhead legislation to ban the importation of fracked gas from major foreign markets like the US, it said.
The aviation pollution tax would be a major funder of a move to free public transport, Mr Boyd Barrett said.
“This isn’t even a radical proposal, it’s been proposed by the EU,” he said, adding that the fact it has yet to gain traction in Ireland is attributable to the larger parties being “complete hostages to major corporations”.
“If you’re not going to take on those corporate interests then you can forget about climate action,” he said.
Solidarity-PBP said that the benefit to the State finances of that tax would amount to €900 million per annum.
Regarding its competition with the Greens, who have made little secret of their willingness to coalesce in Government, TD Bríd Smith said that “tensions exist” within the Green Party between those advocating for radical action and those willing to compromise in Government.
“It’s the job of the radical left to appeal to those who are unhappy,” with the direction of the Greens, she said.
RISE TD Paul Murphy said that if the Green Party could acknowledge that going into coalition in 2007 was a mistake which harmed the environment and vow not to go into such Government again then there would be a “very obvious” opportunity to form a bloc on the left between the two parties.
“If people want to vote for climate action then they should vote for us,” Mr Murphy said, adding that no one present would ever contemplate going into coalition with either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.