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'We deeply regret the hurt this has caused': Eamon Ryan says he does not want to restrict cars in rural Ireland

An article in The Irish Times has caused controversy for the Green Party leader.

GREEN PARTY LEADER Eamon Ryan has responded to criticism targeted at him over comments he made about rural Ireland.

An article in The Irish Times, with the headline, ‘You don’t need to own a car to live in rural Ireland’, was published yesterday.

The headline was later changed to ‘Green Party leader calls for call pooling scheme for rural Ireland”.

ryan The article which has caused issues for the Green Party today.

In the article, Ryan argues that the government should do more to encourage car-pooling, stating:

We don’t all need to own a car. Most of our cars are sitting in a car park for 95 per cent of the time.

ryan Irish Times headline

The newspaper also states that Ryan suggested that a village of 300 people needs just 30 cars to operate.

In the article, Ryan states people could walk to a pick-up point or cycle. However, some readers have reacted angrily to the statements, saying that the Green Party leader is out-of-touch with rural Ireland, pointing out that he lives in South Dublin.

Responding to the criticism, the party has taken issue with the headline, and in a statement says the original headline has caused “a flood of online fury – and rightly so, because a suggestion like that would be ridiculous and impractical”.

It adds: “It would be tone-deaf to needs of our rural communities, and frankly insulting to people who are dealing with a total lack of any public transport on a daily basis.”

The statement continues:

The Green Party does not stand for restricting car ownership, and to state otherwise is a huge misrepresentation of the party position and of Eamon’s comments.
What Eamon Ryan proposed was that car sharing could provide people in rural Ireland with extra options. So cars AND car sharing.

The Green Party states that car sharing schemes won’t work everywhere and are not for everyone, “but there are rural communities who are already doing this”, citing one example in Cahersiveen.

“We deeply regret the hurt that has been caused to rural communities. We are facing a climate emergency, and the impact of that will disproportionately hit rural areas,” the party states, adding that carpooling is one idea that might work for some people in some areas.

The matter was also raised on RTÉ’s Liveline programme with Joe Duffy, which has caused other Green Party member’s to come to the defence of Ryan.

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