GREEN Party candidate Saoirse McHugh has said she does not support the carbon tax despite it being official party policy.
Ms McHugh, who is running for a DáIl seat in Mayo, said the carbon tax isn’t going to “nudge you anywhere except to turn off the light and turn off the heat and sit in the cold”.
She voiced her strong opposition to the proposal during a debate on RTÉ’s Prime Time on Tuesday night.
“I personally don’t support a carbon tax. I think this is why we need rural Greens because not everything can be transposed from Dublin and make sense in terms of climate action across Ireland,” she said.
Ms McHugh, who ran for the Greens in the European elections and recorded over 51,000 first preference votes, said that party leader Eamon Ryan knows how she feels about the carbon tax.
In its manifesto, the Green Party commits to increasing carbon tax each year for the next decade until it reaches €100 per tonne. It currently stands at €26 per tonne following a €6 increase in he last budget.
The Greens also propose to introduce a mechanism to return all revenues raised from the tax to citizens through social welfare increases and tax credits.
“Eamon knows what I feel about the carbon tax and I don’t support it,” Ms McHugh said. “I don’t [support it] and if elected I would intend to feed into the position of the parliamentary party, of the Green parliamentary party.”
She said that research showing that a carbon tax is necessary to combat climate change was not “just not true”. She said a lot of it was based on the success of the plastic bag levy which reduced the amount of bags in circulation in Ireland.
She added: “The way I see it is that until we have alternatives in rural Ireland, like, a carbon tax isn’t going to nudge you anywhere except to turn off the light and turn off the heat and sit in the cold.”
She said she believed there is room in political parties for disagreement. She said the Greens currently have three Dublin-based TDs and that a lot of the party’s positions reflect that.
Ms McHugh has previously said she is against the Greens going into coalition with either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, but on RTÉ last night she appeared to pull back from this position. “I would only go into coalition with a programme for government I could stand over,” she said.