Ryanair CEO says 'lunatic' Green promises will not work

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said on Tuesday he would welcome the “lunatics” of the Green Party entering government in Ireland as part of ongoing coalition talks as this would mean they would be forced to “confront reality”.

FILE PHOTO: Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary attends the Europe Aviation Summit in Brussels, Belgium March 3, 2020. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo

The Green Party says it is in the interests of business to introduce sharp cuts to carbon emissions to avoid hugely costly disruption to global climate patterns. A key measure it is planning is the re-introduction of an Irish air passenger travel tax, which was scrapped in 2011.

With 12 of 160 parliamentary seats, the Green Party likely to be a kingmaker when it comes to forming a government and is expected to join two of the three big parties - centre-right Fine Gael and Fianna Fail or left-wing nationalist Sinn Fein - which each have just under a quarter of the seats.

But forming a government could take months. It took 70 days to form an administration after the last election in 2016.

O’Leary, whose airline Ryanair is one of the biggest carbon emitters in Europe, has in the past called environmentalists “luddites”.

“By all means I think you put all the lunatics in government and let them deal with reality. It’s a far better outcome than keeping them on opposition benches where they never have to confront reality,” O’Leary told Reuters.

“I’ve never been concerned about the Greens entering government in any of the European countries.”

“In many respects it’s good to have the Greens in government because you tend to have more sensible polices than the wish-lists they produce in opposition.”

O’Leary said he was similarly sanguine about Sinn Fein in government, whose economic policies he described as “nuts”.

Sinn Fein stunned the establishment by beating the two centre-right parties that have led every government in Ireland’s history, attracting a new generation of voters with promises on housing, childcare and insurance costs, alongside its historic goal of reunifying the British region of Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland.

“I think by all means ... let them loose in government and say, right, now let’s see how you do. I think they’ll do particularly badly and they’ll roll back on most of their policy initiatives,” he said

“As they say, campaigning is poetry and governing is prose.”

Reporting by Tim Hepher and Laurence Frost, Writing by Graham Fahy; Editing by Alexander Smith