Eamon Ryan: 'no meetings in 2010'

A key cabinet committee on climate change set up amid much fanfare when the Green Party first went into government with Fianna Fáil in 2007 has not met for more than a year, energy minister Eamon Ryan has confirmed.

In a potentially embarrassing revelation for the government's junior partner, Ryan said that while he has attended "all the meetings" of the cabinet committee on climate change and energy security to date, no such meetings have been held in 2010.

He also confirmed that the last meeting of the group was more than a year ago, on 7 October 2009, with the only other meeting of 2009 held in April. This compares with a total of six such meetings during 2008.

"Meetings were held on 23 January, 5 March, 28 May, 2 July, 10 September and 5 November 2008; on 29 April and 7 October 2009," Ryan revealed in a recent written reply to a Labour party Dáil question. "Scheduling of the cabinet committee for climate change and energy security is a matter for the Department of the Taoiseach."

A spokesman for the department said the committee meets "as appropriate", and claimed it would be "incorrect" to correlate the number of committee meetings with the government's commitment to addressing climate change and energy security issues.

A spokeswoman for Ryan also said he was "not worried at all" about the fact that a cabinet-level committee set up to target one of the Green Party's key policy objectives had not met since October of last year.

She suggested the lack of meetings was due to the success which Ryan has had in pushing through the Green agenda.

"There is no initiative that he has brought to cabinet that hasn't got agreement. So it is a measure, I suppose, of the success of Eamon Ryan around the cabinet table," she said.

Labour party energy spokeswoman Liz McManus dismissed such claims as "absolute rubbish".

In her role as rapporteur for the all-party joint Oireachtas committee on climate change, McManus spearheaded the recent publication of a comprehensive climate change bill, which is due to be debated in the Dáil later this week.

"The fact is that the only body that is working well in relation to climate change is the joint committee. The cabinet committee has gone up in smoke," she said. "Minister Ryan has a great line in rhetoric, and is very good at spin. This is highly embarrassing for him.

"You can be damn sure if they were making any progress at the cabinet subcommittee on this hugely important topic, he would be telling us all about it."