Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has pledged not to use the Government jet to fly between his home in Cork and Leinster House if elected Taoiseach.
Mr Martin clocked up a massive €30,000 bill on commercial flights flying between Cork and Dublin when he was Minister for Health.
Speaking at Fianna Fáil’s campaign launch, Mr Martin said it was a “much different world” when he was Health Minister between 2000 and 2004.
Asked if he regretted clocking up so many air miles while in office, he said: “I’m not going to go into the details of that in terms of getting around the country and so on,” before adding: “I was a very active minister.”
New to Independent.ie? Create an account
Mr Martin said he would “obviously not” use the Government jet to fly to and from Cork if he running the next government.
He said he supported Fine Gael’s plan to pay carbon offset charges on government flights.
“I’m not going to pretend they (ministers) don’t have to get to meetings, they do and they have to do it in an efficient way and an effective way on behalf of the country,” he added.
He also said environmental issues would be to the fore of Fianna Fáil’s election campaign.
Previously released figures showed Mr Martin travelled by commercial flights between his native Cork and Dublin on 226 occasions during his five year tenure in the Department of Health.
At the time, Mr Martin had a State car and a Garda driver. The total bill came to €30,530.67, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Meanwhile, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said he has “no plans” for the Government jet if elected to Government. Mr Ryan laughed off suggestions that his party would have policy on the use of the Government jet despite his entire campaign being based on environment issues. “Have I got plans for the government jet?” he laughed.
He was also unable to say if he was hoping to get rid of it or keep it. “No, I haven’t [got plans],” he said.
However, Mr Ryan said the Green Party would only go into a coalition with Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael if the two parties took climate change seriously.
“This is the issue of our time,” he said.
“It’s a turning point election, the last ten years we’ve had the status quo, get the economy back to its old ways. This election is a turning point where it’s actually, ‘Where do we go from here in the next ten years?’»
He said Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael need to be asked if they are committed to going «green».
“At some stage in this election, the other parties will and should be asked the question, ‘Are you really going to go green?’
“We’ve been 40 years thinking about this and we want to apply that thinking as best as we can.”
The TD added that when it comes to election posters, he is re-using his for the third time in a bid to be environmentally friendly.
“They look a bit like my confirmation photos, or what do you call it, holy communion photos, I look so young in them,” he joked.
“I used them in the European election back in 2014 and in that way we try and re-use and try and also reduce.
“It’s madness, last night, the way I describe it is that it is a bit like Halloween for politicians — everyone is out at night on the side of the road.”
He said that the party is in favour of having special areas for candidates to put up their posters.
“The best way we think it is managed is in certain European countries where you have designated places for posters,” he added.