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Here are 10 reasons why Eamon Ryan is totally wrong about Alan Kelly...

… and the government’s record on the environment. Labour Senator John Whelan explains…

EARLIER THIS WEEK, the Green Party leader Eamon Ryan launched a stinging attack on Environment Minister Alan Kelly. 

eamon ryan mad

You can watch the full anger-filled video here. But in Kelly's defence the Labour Senator John Whelan argues that his party has achieved much in the Department of the Environment... 

I WAS MORE than a little entertained when Eamon Ryan launched a broadside in an interview with TheJournal.ie earlier this week. The Government’s record on the environment was the focus of his ire, as was Alan Kelly, who Ryan claims is ‘anti-Green’.

It is, of course, pretty pitiful for the Green Party to accuse this Government of failing to advance real environmental change, given their own weak scorecard in this area, not to mention on political reform.

What Eamon conveniently omitted from his diatribe was that Labour in Government has been left to pick up the pieces of the Greens' failed attempts to get some of their own policies over the line.

From Climate Change legislation to local Government reform, our list of achievements in this area is significant. Here are 10 of them:

1. Climate Change legislation has progressed more under this Government than the last

Despite spending nearly four years at the Cabinet table, the Greens couldn’t get a bill addressing climate change brought to the floor of Dáil Éireann, despite their proclamations on the need for one.

Now the first piece of climate-specific legislation in Ireland - the Low Carbon and Climate Action Bill - is progressing through the Oireachtas. When enacted, it will legally enshrine carbon mitigation processes in Irish law in perpetuity.

2. Introduced a septic tank regulation and inspection regime

The new septic tanks registration scheme has proved successful despite the scaremongering. For a modest charge, families and communities can have more confidence that their septic tanks are working properly, and not posing a health hazard.

3. Rolled out bike schemes in Cork, Limerick and Galway and expanded Dublinbikes

City - Bike Schemes Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Given that cycling in Dublin has grown by 40 per cent since the advent of the bike scheme in the city, rolling-out the scheme to other cities made perfect sense. So we did it.

In doing so, Cork, Galway and Limerick joined the likes of Paris, London, Barcelona and Dublin as the cities that now have their own public-bike schemes through securing sponsorship by Minister Alan Kelly.

In fact, during his time in transport, Minister Alan Kelly set aside a budget of near €65 million for improvements to cycling and walking infrastructure which has gone a long way in making our cities safer for cyclists and promoting a cycling culture.

4. Numbers using public transport have increased

It is a fact that public transport numbers are steadily increasing in Dublin and throughout the country, thanks to the advent of Leap Cards and various real time passenger apps, public transport planners and reform of the rural transport programme.

All of these that were brought in under this Government who also stood by the public transport company during a time of real difficulty not so long ago. Rather than delivering something substantial and real during their time in Government, the Greens chose to focus on overly ambitious projects they couldn’t ultimately deliver.

5. Restricted corporate donations to political parties

This was an issue the Greens promised they would tackle in the revised Programme for Government they cobbled together with Fianna Fail in 2009.

Yet again, their ambition wasn’t matched with action and it fell to a Labour Minister to address when Brendan Howlin clamped down on the practice of corporate donations by effectively outlawing them in 2013.

Cabinet Meeting. Pictured Minister For Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

6. Established a public water utility

Yes this has been one of the most politically controversial projects and one of the most significant reforms in the history of the state.

Despite this, Alan Kelly has taken a firm hand and for the first time ever we are seeing a public utility develop a strategy for fixing leaks, addressing lead pipes and fixing boil water notices that the Greens seemed happy to let continue.

Minister Alan Kelly has grasped this nettle by establishing Irish Water, a utility to parallel the ESB, in the provision of a safe, secure and sustainable supply of water for families, farmers, businesses and industry - at a fair and affordable price.

7. Reforms of the Waste Sector

While John Gormley was twiddling his thumbs in environment, standards in waste collection and landfill were falling. One of Alan Kelly’s first actions was to have in place this year a ban on below-cost selling of waste, a graduated move towards a pay-by-weight system and a mandatory customer charter. The Green Party let the ‘race to the bottom’ continue in the waste sector.

General Elections Campaigns Results Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

8. Introduced a Lobbyists’ Register

The 2009 Programme for Government also committed to regulating lobbying by introducing a Register of Lobbyists. It didn’t happen. Howlin’s Regulation of Lobbying Bill, which provides for web-based registration system for lobbyists, is currently making its way through the Oireachtas and will be enacted soon.

9. Appointment to State Boards

The new portal for State Board appointments - Stateboards.ie – recently went live and it brings to life Labour’s commitment to making the entire process more transparent, more professional and fairer.

10. Reform of Local Government

The ‘far-reaching’ reform of our local authorities aspired to by the Greens went to the wall as the FF-led Government imploded.

Under Alan Kelly and his predecessor Phil Hogan, sweeping reforms of local Government have come into force since 2011 – the numbers of councillors have been reduced, while city and county councils have been merged and local authorities have enhanced roles when it comes to spatial and regional planning.

The financing of local Government has also been reformed with the introduction of the new Local Property Tax – another example of how this Government is making good on a failed Green Party promise.

John Whelan is a Labour's Seanad spokesperson on Energy and Natural Resources.

Watch this video of Eamon Ryan getting REALLY angry about Alan Kelly

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