Pádraig Mac Piarais

Pádraig Mac Piarais
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Leader of His Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition
In office
14 April 2019 – 17 June 2021
MonarchKenneth IV
TaoiseachStiofán Mac Suibhne
Preceded byStiofán Mac Suibhne (indirect)
Leader of the Liberty Party
In office
14 April 2019 – 25 August 2021
TaoiseachProin Casarnach
DeputySeárlas Bácaeir
Minister of the Environment and Climate
In office
7 May 2018 – 27 February 2019
TaoiseachProin Casarnach
Amhlaoibh na Dùnphris
Teachta Comhthionól
for Tarenny At-Large
Assumed office
12 June 1982
Personal details
Born (1950-05-28) 28 May 1950 (age 71)
Cobh, Co. Tarenny, Caldia
Political partyLiberty Party
Spouse(s)Eilís Ní Chuinn (m. 1972; div. 1980)
Eimear Nic Chuilinn (m. 1981; div. 1986)
Caitlín Nic Mhaoláin (m. 1991)

Pádraig Mac Piarais (born 28 May 1950) is a Caldish politician who was the leader of the Liberty Party. He also served as Leader of the Opposition from 2019 to 2021. Previously, he served as Minister of the Environment and Climate from 2018-2019.

Mac Piarais has been a member of the Comhthionól Náisiúnta representing County Tarenny since 1982. Throughout his political career, he has made controversial remarks about climate change, immigration, free speech, and the Euclean Community.

Political career

Before entering national politics, Mac Piarais was a member of the Cobh municipal government and later the County Tarenny commission. He was elected as a Teachta Comhthionól (TC) for Tarenny-at-Large during the 1982 election. He was a strong supporter of Patricia Flowers. Mac Piarais served as a deputy whip from 2002 to 2007 under Énna Ó Ceallaigh.

Minister of the Environment and Climate

After Proin Casarnach succeeded Jimmy O'Reilly as taoiseach, Mac Piarais was appointed as Minister of the Environment and Climate in May 2018. Under his leadership the ministry reduced staff, worked to cut regulations, and saw its budget operationally eliminated. His appointment drew criticism, as Mac Piaras had denied climate change was caused by human activity on several occasions. The Caldish Greens organized weekly protests outside of his office during his tenure as environment minister, drawing significant media attention.

Mac Piarais was notably absent from international meetings on climate change, declining to attend during his tenure as minister. In August 2018, Státaire published an editorial calling him the "most-useless government minister" for his absence from dialogue surrounding climate change and the reductions to his ministry.

In February 2019, Mac Piarais' tenure as Minister of the Environment and Climate ended after the 2019 snap election. His policies were reversed by the socialist government of Stiofán Mac Suibhne.

Opposition leader

In April 2019, Mac Piarais became leader of the Liberty Party following a leadership contest. He beat Julie Royce and Robert Kean, two former Ministers of Foreign Affairs. The process was criticized by his opponents as being drawn out. After Mac Piarais' victory, Kean indicated he would be reevaluating his place in the Liberty Party as the party moved further to the right.

Under Mac Piarais' leadership, Liberty lost five seats in the 2019 Euclean elections. It also lost over 250 seats in municipal elections held at the same time, losing ground to the Social Democrats in many major cities.

In July 2019, Mac Piarais criticized King Kenneth IV and his husband Prince Robert for addressing an international LGBT summit. He accused the royals of being too politically active, breaking convention. Mac Piarais himself was criticized for his remarks by many in Caldia. He again criticized the King over the government's constitutional reform efforts.

He was effectively sidelined as opposition leader by the government when Taoiseach Stiofán Mac Suibhne announced he would no longer field questions from Mac Piarais during debates. All government ministers made the same decision. Mac Piarais objected, but Ceann Comhairle Proinnsias Ó Loingsigh declined to force members of the government to address Mac Piarais. The ceann comhairle referred the issue to the rules committee, which failed to reach a consensus. Mac Piarais has criticized Ó Loingsigh of breaking impartiality over the issue.

After the party's poor performance in the 2021 regional elections, senior figures in the party began to call on Mac Piarais to resign. He has refused to do so despite increasing pressure. Mac Piarais was removed as leader of the Liberty Party's parliamentary group in the Tionól on 17 June 2021. This also ended his tenure as leader of the opposition.

He resigned as party leader on 25 August 2021.

Controversy

Mac Piarais is best known for holding controversial opinions on a number of issues. His belief that climate change is a natural phenomena and has not been influenced by human activity garnered significant media attention while he was a government minister. Mac Piarais has said he does not believe the scientific consensus on both climate change and global warming. In September 2019, he called climate change a socialist ploy to take control of industry.

He has also been criticized for his views on immigration. Mac Piarais supports restricting immigration so that only citizens of the Euclean Community can move to Caldia. In June 2017, he said that the large numbers of foreigners in Caldia were responsible for an increase in crime, unemployment, and poverty. Statistics indicate no correlation and Mac Piarais has been criticized as being racist.

Mac Piarais is also an opponent of the Euclean Community. He has called for Caldia to unilaterally withdraw from the Euclozone and supports a referendum on the country's continued membership in the EC. In April 2018, he was quoted as saying "the erosion of national sovereignty is equatable the political genocide of a national government". This was met with condemnation from many members of his own party, Caldish politicians, and Euclean politicians.

He believes that people have a fundamental right to say whatever they want, and does not support any restrictions on free speech. However, Mac Piarais has a complicated relationship with the Caldish press and has sued several outlets for reporting on his personal life or misrepresenting him. None of his lawsuits have been successful in court.

In January 2021, it was reported that Mac Piarais called Kenneth IV a homophobic slur in a party meeting. The incident sparked significant backlash and condemnation. Mac Piarais denies that he used the slur.