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13 Aug 2022

Offaly based super junior Minister reflects on challenging six months in Government

‘Buy, cook and eat Irish vegetables this Winter' urges Minister Pippa Hackett

Minister of State Pippa Hackett

Minister Pippa Hackett has described her first six months in Government as challenging but very productive.

“The Green Party entered Government at a very difficult time, facing the crises of Covid and Brexit, as well as the climate and biodiversity emergency,” she says. “However, there is an acute awareness that we need to make changes – something the Greens have been saying for years. We want to create an economy that is green, sustainable and circular.”

The Green Party has seven ministers across a number of departments.

The three senior ministers Eamon Ryan (Transport, Environment, Communications, Climate Action) Catherine Martin (Tourism, Sport, Arts, Media, the Gaeltacht), and Roderic O’Gorman (Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth) are joined in cabinet by Minister Hackett, who is a super-junior minister at the Department of Agriculture.

The party’s three junior ministers are Malcolm Noonan with responsibility for heritage and electoral reform, Joe O’Brien with responsibility for community development and charities, and Ossian Smyth with responsibility for public procurement and eGovernment.

“We’ve made great progress in public and active transport,” says Minister Hackett. “Bus Eireann services have seen the largest enhancement in 15 years, creating 120 new jobs for bus drivers. Local authorities now have budgets to create cycle lanes and footpaths, and Greenways around the country are receiving investment for tourism and recreation – including the Offaly section of the Grand Canal Greenway.

“Retrofitting of houses is underway across the Midlands, which will make homes warmer, and reduce the amount of energy we need to heat our homes.  Local authorities have been funded to carry out this work on their housing stock, while the grants available through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) have been increased. 

“Bog rehabilitation in the Midlands has been funded with €108m, securing 350 jobs, while 100 new jobs are to be created in a bottle-to-bottle recycling plant in Portlaoise. We will no longer be shipping our used plastic bottles overseas. Instead, we will have Green economy jobs here at home.”

In the Department of Agriculture, Minister Hackett has responsibility for forestry, horticulture, and organics.

“I’m a firm believer in diversity on farms and growing more of our own food,” she says. “We are net importers of a range of fruit and vegetables – apples, carrots, onions, and even potatoes. We can and should grow more of these staple foods here, so I negotiated a 50% increase in horticulture investment to €9m in the 2021 budget, and a 33% increase in the Organic Farming Scheme to €16m. Forestry is in a difficult place at the moment, with issues for those wishing to plant and harvest trees, but I am determined to fix these problems, and set forestry on a better footing, with a multi-functional future.

“We have faced severe challenges this year and there will no doubt be more to come, but I believe that having the Green Party in Government is bringing common sense to the way we shape our future. We have to build resilience and sustainability in our country to maintain a good quality of life for our people. That’s what I’ll be working towards in 2021.”

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