Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin will fly business class again ‘if it’s needed’, despite higher carbon footprint

GREEN Party deputy leader Catherine Martin has said she will fly business class again in the future “if it’s needed”, despite the higher carbon footprint created by such flights.

s Martin, the Media and Tourism Minister, defended her decision to take four business class flights to destinations including the United Arab Emirates, Argentina and America within the last year.

She argued that these long haul trips had packed itineraries on the ground and that she was representing the Irish tourism industry. Taoiseach Micheál Martin leapt to Ms Martin’s at a press conference in Dublin Castle on Tuesday, claiming there was a “singling out of particular members of Cabinet”.

Asked to give a commitment that she would only fly economy class in the future, Ms Martin declined to do so, arguing she could not predict what the next tourism or trade mission would be. 

“I’m not going to commit one way or the other under pressure from media. I think it’s important that a minister who travels, representing governments, if it’s a packed itinerary, if it’s in line with policy, then you have to consider everything,” the Dublin-Rathdown TD said.

“It depends on the itinerary, it depends on the trade mission. If it’s needed, then yes. If it’s not needed, then absolutely not. It depends, each mission will be a different decision and that’s all I can say to you. I can’t predict what the next tourism or trade mission will be.”

Ms Martin said she tries to limit her air travel as much as possible but as the minister representing the tourism sector she highlighted the importance of promoting the industry abroad.

“Some 75pc of our tourism revenue actually was [pre-pandemic] from international tourists and this was a sector that was absolutely devastated for the last two years. 

“I partook in a tourism trade missions to keep to the front of mind, centre of mind that Ireland was reopening as a tourism destination because it’s so incredibly important to us as an indigenous industry.

“So the missions I have engaged in were designed to rebuild that sector, had very packed schedules and from the get go on the ground when arriving in a region right up on until the very end, and that is the reason I did these tourism trade missions, but it was a packed itinerary and it was in line with policy in relation to long haul flights.

“Obviously for short haul flights, I fly economy. But as I said in my personal capacity I make every possible to limit my air travel.” 

Defending his Cabinet colleague, Mr Martin said there was a case to be made for ministers flying business class, which a World Bank study found is responsible for three times more carbon dioxide emissions than economy seats.

“Most of these missions are work based. You have to hit the ground running from here, in other words you work up to the time you get on the plane and you’re going to hit the ground running when you get off a plane,” he said.

Asked if he also flies business class, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan’s spokesperson told the Irish Independent earlier this week that he did on “one occasion” and did so “in accordance with civil service guidelines”.

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