I reiterate what I have said previously about electric cars. I have nothing against electric cars but it is a fact people will buy electric cars when they are reliable and when they are a real alternative to what we have at present. People cannot be forced out of good diesel cars that can travel the distance, let us say from Kerry to Dublin, without having to refuel. I can actually go back home again, just about, without refuelling, but if that was an electric car, there is no way in the world that I would make it up here in one day, given the length of time it takes to charge cars the distance they would go.
I will say for the benefit of whoever is listening that one of my cars has 750,000 km done. It is a diesel car and it is going perfectly. It is 16 years old. Will the Minister tell me what electric car will travel that distance? What account of the electric car will there be after two or three years? What will it be worth and where will you go with it because you cannot dispose of the battery without paying an enormous sum for it? No scrap dealer will take an electric car for scrap because he or she must pay too much to dispose of the battery.
To get back to the crunch of the issue, if we added all these electric cars now coming up to Christmas and the worry that we have with providing electricity for the utilities it is needed for at present, where would they be? Would they be all parked along the M50, N7 or whatever it is, having given up because there would be no electricity to keep them going? We must be realistic.
As for forcing people, the Minister has this idea, and his party and the people who support him are saying, that people should not be allowed to buy diesel and petrol cars. That is democratically wrong. Let people make up their mind, and when the electric car is a reliable and useful option, they will buy them without being forced to buy them. They should not be forced to do that.
The Minister seems to be electric mad and for nothing else, but there are other options out there. There are biofuel options. I have been told - my group met with these biofuel groups - that the Government would not listen to them. If that biofuel was added to the diesel, there would be no emissions. The Government does not want to listen to that.
People are stressed and they cannot buy new cars. The Minister told them to buy diesel cars in 2007 and now he is telling them they must get rid of them and buy electric cars. What will the Minister think of in a couple of years' time? That is the worry.
There are options. Take the petrol car, for example. In 1975, my father had a petrol car. Its registration number was 236 PRI. It was converted to gas. The same crowd, the liquid petroleum gas, LPG, crowd, came into us. They say that if that type of gas was used in the petrol cars again, it would reduce the emissions to practically nil. They also told us the Government would not meet with them, the same as the biofuel people. What connection has the Government that it does not want to listen to any other option?
There is no harm in getting down emissions, and I have nothing against electric cars, but they are not a viable, realistic or affordable option right now. Everyone here knows how much people are caught up short of money for everything with the cost of everything gone up. Do we want to exacerbate the problem by telling them it is a matter of keeping what they have for the foreseeable future? Maybe the Government wants them to get out and walk. The Minister suggested that one car would do 30 people in a village. I can assure him that three people in Kilgarvan village would not manage with one car. Everyone needs the car they have and they will not give it to anyone else because they need it. You cannot go anywhere in rural Ireland without a car. It is fine here, as there are brand new shiny buses the Government is putting the carbon tax it collects into and which the people in rural Ireland are paying for, but the Minister has to be realistic. The electric car will be bought when it is a reliable, affordable and realistic option. Right now, it is not and forcing people to do just that is wrong.
To top it all, the Government does not have the infrastructure. I did not hear of any extra charging points being placed along filling stations or anywhere. In Kerry, they cannot afford to do it and they are getting no help from the Government. The Government will have to wake up. The Minister will have to be real. People have to get up in the morning and they must have something reliable to take them to work. If they are travelling long distances, an electric car will not do that. It will suit some housewives and people doing short runs but at present the design is not good enough to take them on long journeys. Until that happens, the Minister is wasting his time, and everyone else's time as well, and he is hurting and making more angry the people in rural Ireland.