THE LEADER OF the Green Party Eamon Ryan addressed about 200 party members at the Green Party Conference today in Dublin stating that it is time the country took a “new direction”.
Green Party Convention
He said that that Ireland needs “a new economy, which better secures our future prosperity, and which reduces the boom and bust character of the existing model”.
He admitted the Green Party had gone through tough times in the past, stating the Green Party has gone through “a remarkably difficult period in the last few years”.
But I can sense new green shoots as this spring starts to arrive. For all the importance of European Politics, developing a new team of local councillors is going to be critical for us as a party.
We have a proud record in local government. You need people there who are practical decision makers. Everything starts by getting your own local environment right.
Our politics has to be about helping to bring practical, every-day improvements to people’s lives.
He criticised messages from the leading political parties stating that Enda Kenny’s mantra of Ireland being the “best small country in the world in which to do business, is not good enough on its own,” he said, adding that it ignores some fundamental flaws in the system which we need to address.
Speaking about Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) Ryan said that he found it “remarkable” that not one of the mainstream Irish political parties have supported it, stating that eleven other EU countries have done so.
He said he believed it was the “best strategy is to attract the long-term investment funds and financial services, rather than relying on more speculative short term transactions”.
Ryan said that both Labour and Fine Gael have “shown no leadership” in terms of protecting our environment, adding:
We need to adopt the highest carbon reduction goals possible and to set the highest standards to improve public health, biodiversity and water and waste management.
We should do it, not because it is the European Union or the United Nations telling us to do so, but because it makes sense for ourselves, here at home.
He added that Ireland shouldn’t remain so “over-reliant” for the next fifty years on foreign direct investment. We can promote a new enterprise culture, where the efficient use of our natural resources and the development of our own small business sector, are the primary areas for employment growth.
This is not just a green economy involving the girl putting up the windmill or the guy growing the organic fruit.
It is just as much about the barman, the binman and the brickie, the scientist with the 3d printer, the truck driver, the teacher, the local nurse and the community guard.
He said that every party will say that they are in favour of such a strategy, “but none of them have set out in any detail what their long term ambitions are when it comes to protecting our environment. Fine Gael and Labour have shown no leadership whatsoever on the issue. They have retreated on just about everything we were trying to achieve,” he said, adding:
Forget about them stealing our Green clothes, they only wear red or blue.
In terms of the planned re-development of the electricity grid in Ireland, Ryan said that questions need to be asked about the ownership of the power supply, stating:
There is no reason we couldn’t restore the ownership of power to the people, giving more favourable terms and investment opportunities to those who live within a certain distance of any new wind farm.
He said he saw a role for the Green Party in terms of sitting down and talking to communities to “try and work out how we might be able to provide these new energy solutions,” he said.
He was critical about the new reforms to local government calling it a “new gerrymandered regional authority structure. God help us, but there is very little difference between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail”.
Speaking about why he is running in the European elections, Ryan said:
I am keen to try and represent my city in the European Parliament. I have a real experience in the area of internet governance.
In the European Parliament, it has been my Green colleagues who have led on this issue. If we can introduce the best digital rights in this city and country, I think it will help us develop as a technology hub.
Some people have asked how I could lead this party from Brussels, to which my response is that we have always had a broader understanding of how leadership works, and how it can be shared.
I don’t see Brussels as being so remote. I don’t see any lack of other people here at home who could take on additional roles as we rebuild our party.