BAD TIMING – There is something profoundly sad about the poor timing with which the Green Party entered into Government for the first time in their history in 2007. Thrust so quickly into a deep and prolonged economic crisis that was created by the very forces of unrestrained market capitalism and irresponsible planning that the Greens for so long railed against, it became gradually apparent that our time in Government would be a deeply turbulent one.
We wish to use this opportunity to ask that before each of us enters the privacy of the ballot box on February 25th, that the role of the Green Party both in Government and in Irish life more generally be given due reflection.
ACHIEVEMENTS IN GOVERNMENT – Whilst we were bitterly disappointed to see our legislation on firm action on climate change and banning corporate donations fail at the last moment due to the demise of the 30th Dáil last month, we remain proud of our record in office. Our term in Government began in 2007, when six bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Green TDs set about putting Ireland on a path to a sustainable future. Who could blame us for seizing the opportunity to advance our agenda in a tangible way in Government?
And we did. Our TDs punched well above their weight in Government, instigating a raft of reforms across a large swathe of policy areas. Amongst our proudest achievements in office include fundamental reform of planning in Ireland, which will put an end to the days of dodgy re-zonings and which will restore faith in the planning process.
We passed the historic- if imperfect- Civil Partnership Act, ensured that third level fees regime were not re-introduced, kept primary school class sizes static and ensured that Ireland’s commitments to foreign aid increases remain on track. Our cycle to work scheme has incentivised thousands of commuters to ditch their cars whilst we have made Ireland a test-bed for the advent of the electric vehicle.
We have enabled the retrofitting of thousands of homes, and trebled Ireland’s renewable energy production- pushing us to 2nd place in Europe. As the only political party in Ireland that neither solicits nor accepts corporate ‘donations’, we are the only party who aren’t beholden to developers or any other vested interests. Every cent we spend on this campaign is clean.
THE NEED FOR GREEN – Ireland’s present economic and social crisis demands a new kind of politics. In a world where the old certainties about the steady march of economic progress have collapsed; environmental and social degradation continues to blight our nation and our planet, it is the Green movement that offers the radicalism we need.
We are the only party that understands the incontestable idea that unlimited economic growth cannot occur on a finite planet. If we continue down our present path, the environmental crises we will face in the future will make our present economic predicament look like a mere speed bump. As part of a massive international political Green movement, regardless of the outcome of this election, the Green Party will endure.
A Progressive Democrats-style meltdown will not happen and cannot happen for the simple reason that we have something they never had; a purpose that gives our existence meaning. Whilst it is the state of the Irish economy that is understandably on the lips of voters, we believe that there is a bigger picture: Two thirds of humanity remains in deep poverty, whilst the other third continues to accelerate the process of pillage, plunder and poisoning of our planet.
Our founding principles of linked and interwoven commitments to social, economic, and environmental justice worldwide are not just more relevant than ever – they have become a necessity. We leave Government chastened by the experience of power, rueful about some mistakes made, and sorrowful about the pain that so many have had to bear as a result of this prolonged economic crisis.
But we remain proud in the knowledge that in the most hostile of circumstances, we have made a positive difference to this country. We ask that when you pick up the pencil on February 25th, you remember that not all politicians and political parties are the same.
UCC Young Greens Society