plane and simple | 

Micheál Martin defends business class flights, says ‘I work full day before I go on any plane’

Taoiseach Micheál Martin is the only Fianna Fáil cabinet member to use business class flights

Taoiseach Micheál Martin© PA

Philip Ryan and Senan

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has defended being the only Fianna Fáil cabinet member to use business class flights, saying: “I work a full day before I go on any plane”.

Mr Martin’s Fianna Fáil Cabinet colleagues all said they do not fly business when travelling abroad on State visits.

Health Minister Stephen and Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue even flew economy class to an international expo in Dubai which Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin travelled to in a business class seat.

Business class flights are responsible for at least three times more carbon emissions than economy, according to World Bank research.

The Taoiseach said he works hard in his role as leader of the country when defending his use of business class flights.

“I’ll be very straight with you, I work a full day before I go on any plane. I work on the plane and I work when I get off the plane. Full on. That's what I should do. That is my obligation and that’s it,” he said.

Mr Martin said “in the fullness of time” it will be seen that the Government “made fundamental shifts in terms of climate change”.

Meanwhile, Green Party Junior Minister Malcolm Noonan weighed in behind Catherine Martin saying he believed the additional personal carbon emissions clocked up his party colleague were worth it because of her Tourism and Art portfolio.

“If you're specifically referencing the portfolio of tourism and arts these are important portfolios that Ireland benefits from hugely in terms of representation abroad.

“I think it's important at times that there's a necessity perhaps to be in a position to be able to carry out work while traveling to events, the long-time environmental activist said in defence of Ms Martin.

Rebel Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan also refused to condemn Ms Martin’s business class jet-setting while her Cabinet colleagues flew economy to the same destinations.

“Nobody’s a saint. And I wouldn't expect anybody to be a saint,” Ms Hourigan said.

“I am not trying to be better than anyone else. I do have a car, but I try not to drive too much. People will use transport for their personal needs,” she said.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, asked if the business class row was a case of ‘do as I preach, not as I do’ by his party, said it should not be a case of what any one individual did. Instead he stressed the responsibility of airlines,

Everyone had to “make this climate leap,” he said, adding that personalisation of planetary issues risked getting “into difficulty.”

He added: “I'm very glad I'm not tourism Minister because maybe the schedule when you arrive as a tourism minister in somewhere like Dubai, you literally are running from one meeting to the next.”

Told that two Fianna Fáil ministers had travelled economy class to the same Dubai Expo, Mr Ryan said: “What we want to do is change the system so it saves all of us because we do have to take measures.

“I met Aer Lingus and Ryanair yesterday. One of the key things we're talking about is how you switch to sustainable fuels to make aviation part of this change. No sector gets an out. Aviation is going to have to do as much as anyone else. They understand that.”

Asked again if the business class flights suggested Green Party hypocrisy, Mr Ryan said: “I’m not going to start determining exactly who can or can't do what.

“There are circumstances where I think it is appropriate that you want to arrive able to work from the get-go, which is often how it works as a minister.”

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