The ‘Stifling’ of New Climate Politics in Ireland

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

The ‘Stifling’ of New Climate Politics in Ireland


  • Louise Michelle Fitzgerald Geography Department, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  • Paul Tobin School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester, UK
  • Charlotte Burns Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Sheffield, UK
  • Peter Eckersley Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University, UK / Department for Institutional Change and Regional Public Goods, Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space, Germany


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Abstract:  In 2019, Ireland declared a ‘Climate Emergency,’ receiving plaudits from across the political spectrum for doing so. Some argued the country was experiencing an era of ‘new climate politics’: In 2017, Ireland had established the first Citizens’ Assembly on Climate, and in 2019 its Parliament debated a Climate Emergency Measures Bill, which was ground-breaking in its proposal to ban offshore oil and gas exploration. Yet, despite majority support for this Bill in Parliament, the minority Government blocked the legislation by refusing to grant a ‘Money Message,’ a potential veto activated following indication by an independent actor that a Bill would require the appropriation of public money. We introduce the concept of ‘policy stifling’ to capture how the Money Message was used to block the Climate Emergency Measures Bill. We conduct detailed process-tracing analysis, building on elite semi-structured interviews with policy makers and campaigners involved in the process. We argue that whilst the Government’s stifling undermined the new era of elite climate politics, it simultaneously boosted an emerging grassroots climate politics movement with the potential for effecting more radical change in the longer term.

Keywords:  climate change; climate emergency; depoliticisation; Ireland; policy dismantling; policy stifling; public policy; veto theory

Published:   28 April 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v9i2.3797


© Louise Michelle Fitzgerald, Paul Tobin, Charlotte Burns, Peter Eckersley. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.