13 June, 2007

Is é seo an t-am

It's time.

What a long strange trip it's been, to quote Jerry Garcia.

It's a good deal, not a great deal. Eamon Dunphy would be proud.

Twenty five years ago we sat down in the Glencree Centre for Reconciliation to draft our core principles. Regardless of whether we're in government or not, they'll still be there as a reference point. I'm not a fan of unrealistic expectations and I'd be the first to admit that we could not deliver our entire manifesto by being in Government. However, on climate change, on housing, on planning and on local government reform I believe we can deliver.

The question for me is this: Would Ireland be a better place in five years time with ourselves in Government than if we stay out? At this stage I believe we can deliver changes that would be visible both locally, and on the international stage. It wouldn't be a marriage made in heaven, but few are these days. And besides, sometimes opposites attract, and maybe a marriage of pragmatism and idealism could last the test of time.

I don't believe that we're 'an opportunistic party seeking to appropriate the Fianna Fáil mandate to impose its faddish obsessions on the country.' as John Waters suggested in a newspaper article a few days ago. I believe we're here for the long haul, and that environmental issues are one of the few genuinely new ideas that have emerged on the political horizon in recent years. Perhaps, after 25 years our times has come.

I think it's worth it. I intend voting for it, and as I'm sure Senator Camillus Glynn would attest to on his squeeze-box, sometimes the devil has all the best tunes.

25 comments:

Damien said...

I was making a similar point yesterday; if the Green Party membership feel they can achieve more in Government with FF than they can outside of it, it's vital that the membership support the deal.

While there are many parts of Green policy that I would disagree with, I do believe that FF and the Greens should be able to pull together an effective programme for Government, at a very important time for Ireland. In particular, my experience as a member of a local authority (Town Council) has made me a strong supporter of reform in local government.

Good luck today. I hope the Green Party delegates will give this full consideration and come to a decision that will see their party, and the Country, prosper over the next five years.

Anonymous said...

It's a good deal, not a great deal.

As a Green voter, this is not a good deal, it is very poor one that will see the Green party become the whipping boys for the corruption and jobbery that is Fianna Fáil.

If this goes through I'm never going to vote Green again. You will allow co-location and will allow the building of a motorway through Ireland's most important heritage site.

arachne said...

Have you gone mad? What about the motorway through Tara? What about the Shannon stopover? What about rural one-off housing? What about hospital co-location?
What does "Review and renew the role of the EPA" mean? Is it possible to break such a promise?
"Establish Climate Change commission" Yes, that's what we need - more lip service!
You got my vote in this election and you barely kept your seat. Never again.

Disillusioned said...

You've just committed political suicide by accepting a weak deal. You're propping up FF and Harney and got practically nothing in return.

Can't you see that FF were taking you for fools. They were taking a punt on negotiations with the Greens and playing you off against the independents and PDs?

They had nothing to lose by bringing the Greens onboard and everything to gain. Wait till you see the transfers you're going to lose at the next election. You won't get them from FG / Lab voters etc. You think FF didn't factor this into their negotiations? Now for a couple of ministries you end up propping up Bertie and Harney!

If I was you I'd start bloody working your constituency very hard because you're going to need it to ever get in at the next election in about 18 / 24 months.

Foleypt said...

I commend you and The Green Party on making a difficult but brave decision. How easy it would have been for you and the other green TDs to sit again in opposition. Your decision will potentially put your seats at risk next election, or else it could be the making of a breakthrough for the party. However win or lose for The Green Party the real winner will be Ireland and the environment in every decision that you will be able to affect. Remember that your coalition compromises are compromises and do not have to reflect agreement. You can vote approval of the M3 as the price of coalition while still saying publically it was the wrong decision..you can ensure that no such wrong decisions are made again. My application for party membership will be in the post today.

Anonymous said...

I voted Green for the first time and it will be the last time because of this deal. Very dissapointed Ciaran to be honest. I will go back to voting Fine Gael as they are the only party you can trust will not put Fianna Fail back into power

a.k.a. Zooomabooma said...

Actually, Robert Hunter wrote "What a long strange trip it's been" not Jerry Garcia.

Have a nice day :)

Baz said...

Am surprised and very disappointed that the Greens accepted the M3 motorway plan as part of this deal

One of the reasons I voted Greens No.1 was because I expected that you would stand up to Roche and the meathead developer cronyism rampant in FF

Yes, there has to be compromise involved in every deal but to go along with this is sacrilege

Anonymous said...

The complainers seem to think that colocation and the M3 are going to magically go away if the Greens remained in opposition. They won't.

Ex DIT Student said...

I am afraid FF have led you up the garden path. Unpopular decisions such as carbon tax and water metreing that Bertie would have had to introduce anyway, can now be explained away as Green Policy and not FF's fault. I think Bertie will endevour to bury the Greens as he has managed to do to the PD's by letting your civic responsibilty to tackle serious issues; ala Mary Harney in Health,(regardless of your opinions at least she has tried to face the issues head on and not react to straw polls at every juncture) and wash his hands of the consequences.

Ann Crowley said...

Ciaran congrats to you and rest of Greens on historic day. Looking forward to engaging with you on some of my local and personal issues, such as parking fees at the park and ride for those of us who have paid up for an annual DART ticket, failure by DLRCOCO to provdie water butts for the collection of rainwater (as Fingal Co Co do for a reduced price - €25?), littering, dog fouling, anti-social behaviour at Sandycove Beach.
Anyway, delighted that this day has come for you all. Enjoy, work hard, don't let us down!
Just watching John Gormley get his seal of office. Am sorry about Trevor Sargent but he is a man of his word and I have to admire him.
I hope the 2 Ministers will opt for bio fuel cars??

Critical Junk said...

Ceart go leor, mun a bhfuil seo an t-am, maith thu and all that jazz.
In a country where coalition government is the norm I personally see no point in a political party that isn't prepared to muck on in to power. Bring on the greening of Government. And as for the detractors, well, people in glas houses shouldn't throw stones ;)

Ann Crowley said...

Apropos my earlier email, forgot to mention 2 other annoyances -
1. why do civil servants have free city centre parking [and no BIK to pay] while I have opted to use public transport, keeping my car off the road and have paid up for an annual DART ticket while also paying €5 a day to park my car at a park and ride facility?
2. what about the restoration of Leinster Lawn to its former glory? I walk past it several times a day to and from work and despair of seeing that sea of tarmac where there was once a lush green lawn which was a joy to see. Bring it back!!

CelticLad said...

The Green’s pre-election policy had nine clear points (see below) that led with a promise to “immediately declare Ireland to be a GM-Free zone and prohibit the use of GM ingredients in animal feed and any testing or growing of GM crops and ban transgenic farm animals”. This promise, along with others, including a GM-Free regulatory authority to ensure that rigorous testing is put in place to verify that animal feed is free of GM inputs, have now been set aside. Now left is only a watered down vague one line sentence within a 52 page agreement for a Government program. The Greens now just commit to “Seek to negotiate the establishment of an All-Ireland GM-Free Zone”. This wording was agreed upon as part of a deal to enter into coalition with Fianna Fail, who while in Government have previously allowed GM fields trials and who a Green party elected official has described as “the devil”.

The commitment to simply “seek to negotiate” is the epitome of biopolitics. It is very clear the likelihood of a truly GM free zone for Ireland is zero considering that in Ireland BASF already has an EPA license to carry out field trials of blight resistant GM potatoes until 2010 if they decided to and the fact that the EU this week voted to allow more GM material into food products, including organic products. However, the Greens in government now open a real debate on GM crops in Ireland as the Greens have encountered what Urlich Beck in “Ecological Politics in an Age of Risk (1995)” described as “politically explosive hazards which render questionable the principles of calculation and precaution”. This will no douth make for interesting discussions around the Government cabinet table.

Its clear that the Green Party in Ireland has sacrificed clear actionable commitments on GM food for inclusion in Government (not a first as the Green in Government in Germany allowed GM crop field trials). The fudge on GMO’s it topped off with a weak verbal comment by the Green’s Trevor Sargent that "The establishment of Ireland as a GMO-free zone is a project that I will throw myself into in a very enthusiastic fashion…” However, he is now part of a Government, of which the main political party, Fianna Fail, ten years ago made the pre-election promise to put in place:

“A moratorium on the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment and on the marketing of any foods which contain any genetically modified ingredient, or which was produced using any genetically modified organism”

only to state less than two years later that:

"Stability and predictability in policy are also important in terms of underpinning the competitiveness of the biotechnology sector... The area of Irish economic interest where biotechnology, particularly modern biotechnology / genetic modification, has greatest potential is in agriculture...".

It is evident that biopolitics is alive and well on the isle of “Forty shades of Green”, a title now politically more fitting than Johnny Cash could have ever imagined.


Pre-Election policy:

The Green Party/Comhaontas Glas in Government would-

1.1 immediately declare Ireland to be a GM-Free zone and prohibit the use of GM ingredients in animal feed and any testing or growing of GM crops and ban transgenic farm animals;

1.2 immediately begin negotiations with the UK government in an attempt to achieve an all island GM-Free Zone;

1.3 establish a GM-Free regulatory authority to ensure that rigorous testing is put in place to verify that animal feed is free of GM inputs;

1.4 veto any EU proposed legislation that would allow a certain threshold for GM contamination in conventional seeds before the seeds had to be labelled as containing GM traces;

1.5 oppose the patenting of seeds;

1.6 ensure that the Irish Seed Savers Association receives adequate funding. (This voluntary organisation is dedicated to the location and preservation of traditional varieties of fruit and vegetables. The ISSA maintains a seed bank and plays a vital role in saving our genetic diversity for the future.) We will also ensure that naturally occurring or conventionally bred rare and native varieties of seed can be freely sold.

1.7 introduce strict liability laws, holding GM companies and users of GM crops responsible for any GM contamination in Ireland in violation of Ireland's GM-free status;

1.8 At a local level, Green Party members of Local Authorities will campaign to make their Local Authorities GM-Free and assist local farmers to organise into GM-Free regions;

1.9 At EU level, Green Party MEPs will campaign to make the EU GM-Free and, at a minimum, to insist there is no lifting of the EU moratorium on GM crops and food until the new EU regulations on labelling and traceability are in place; there is an enforceable system of liability agreed; and the problems of coexistence of GM and non-GM crops have been resolved.

Michael said...

"You will allow co-location and will allow the building of a motorway through Ireland's most important heritage site."

This is the kind of viewpoint I've heard quite a bit of lately. It's entirely understandable, but it's important to bear in mind that whatever the Greens do, those things are going ahead.

If we go into government or stay out, US troops continue to use Shannon. The difference between those two options is that in government, the Greens can push a variety of policy objectives which would otherwise be ignored.

I can understand your concerns and frustrations (believe me, I know where you're coming from), but the sources of those concerns won't change by Greens sitting on the opposition benches.

Law Bra said...

People voted Green to get the Greens into office to implement Green policies like saving Tara. Going into Government and not saving Tara is a sellout. Pure and simple. Like Dick Spring's Labour the voters will be waiting for them at the next election.

TheCitizen said...

Ciaran,
I'm not a Green voter but I am a fan of yourself and Eamon Ryan and I am gutted by the decision the Greens have made. Not only are they now propping up PD policy on private healthcare (policy that paves the way to the disatrous Americanisation of our health system), but there are a host of issues that you failed to get much traction on. Looking at transport alone, the stuff that isn't woolly and vague was already in Transport 21. It really is a poor, poor deal. And from a pragmatic perspective its hard to see you keeping your seat after five years in government with Martin Cullen et al. Time to reconsider I'd say.

Danny W said...

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference." --Reinhold Niebuhr, The Serenity Prayer
I think the Greens made the right but difficult choice. I know they will work for a better Ireland.

Anthony said...

Anthony Sheridan
Email: Anthony.sheridan@gmail.com
Website: http://www.publicinquiry.eu/

Life on Planet Bertie

There’s an image that flashes in my mind every time I hear Green Party spokespersons struggling to adapt to life on Planet Bertie.

Mr. Bunny Rabbit, out for his nightly stroll, is suddenly blinded by two very bright lights bearing down on him and he thinks; ‘I wonder what’s going to happen next?

The story so far…

On the M3:
“If there’s one thing we’ve learned during these negotiations, when a project is underway and it may not, in the public mind seem like a difficulty to stop it, but when you start looking at the legality of it, the contractual arrangements, the work that’s being done and the momentum that’s built up, it becomes very, very difficult to stop that train in its tracks.” (Green TD, Trevor Sargent, Tonight with Vincent Browne, Wed. 13th June).
So, if only the Green’s had known about the legal and contractual arrangements already in place regarding Tara they would have been happy to drop their long and passionate campaign to stop a major motorway running through the Tara/Skryne valley

On Shannon:
“It’s probably more difficult than the M3 situation because you’re not only dealing with a situation that is ongoing but also with a situation that is internationally complex and probably requires a number of governments to be involved in resolving it, but we did get some movements on renditions.” (Trevor Sargent: Link as above).
So, not much comfort for the countless thousands dying in Iraq but Trevor did add that they got a great deal on home insulation.
On Corruption:
“The Green Party is not the moral guardian of Fianna Fail or anybody else.” (Green TD, Ciaran Cuffe).
That’s clear enough, Bertie can rest easy.

On their own members:

“It did surprise me the amount of ‘Save Tara’, ‘Vote no’ posters that were outside the Mansion House on Wednesday as if us not participating in government, that our moral purity would shine from the hills and suddenly get a sea change. That was never going to happen.” (Green TD, Paul Gogarty).

So, keep quiet and forget all that campaigning, educating, lobbying, protesting stuff. The only way to get change is to er…sup with the devil?
ENDS

Anthony Sheridan
Email: Anthony.sheridan@gmail.com
Website: http://www.publicinquiry.eu/

Anonymous said...

Turncoats.

650,000 dead in Iraq and you decide Shannon's not worth fighting over?

Shame on you.

arachne said...

"colocation and the M3" won't magically go away if the Greens remain in opposition. My personal issue is the fact that the Greens are propping up a Government that WILL allow these things to happen. As for the other 'concessions' the Greens got from Fianna Fail, Richard Bruton got it 100% right when he referred to the number of times "consider" was mentioned in the Programme for Government, and uniformly in reference to Green policies. Never again.

Anthony said...

Anthony Sheridan
Tel: 021/4813833
Website: http://www.publicinquiry.eu/

19th June 2007

Oh Mary

Mary Harney and Joint Honorary Treasurer of the Progressive Democrats, Paul Mackay, were taking a stroll on the beach.

They were discussing Paul’s worry that perhaps the PDs were getting too close to Fianna Fail. Suddenly, Paul spotted a very bright and shiny object on the sand.

Wow, I’ve never seen anything like it before, what is it Mary?

You have seen it before, Paul; it’s a lump of integrity.

Integrity? But it couldn’t be Mary, it’s bright and clean, nothing like the lacklustre integrity we have back at party headquarters.

That’s because our integrity is not real, it’s made from recycled brown paper envelopes.

But.., but why Mary.., Why?

Well, Paul, it’s simple. When we decided to board the Fianna Fail boat ten years ago it was already overloaded with developers contracts, jobs for the boys, promises to ‘friends’ etc. Our heavy integrity would have sunk the whole operation so we dumped the lot overboard; I suppose that’s one of the pieces that washed up.

Anyway, we could hardly go public on what we had done so we created a new lightweight type of integrity, specifically designed to keep the boat afloat. It was made up of an endless supply of brown paper envelopes from Fianna Fail headquarters. You have to admit, it fooled you for ten years and, until recently, most other Irish citizens.

Oh Mary, Mary, how could you? You mean it’s all true? Haughey was really corrupt and not a patriot to his fingertips? Bertie really does have questions to answer? Dick Roche is not leaving office to work on the streets of Calcutta. Oh Mary, please, don’t tell me that Martin Cullen is not really my fairy godmother. How could you betray me like this?

Pull yourself together Paul, the Great One is pleased with our performance, that’s why we’re back in power. And the really good news is that from now on we don’t have to bother with all that integrity stuff.

The Green’s have arrived with truckloads of it; I think they made it from a combination of recycled Green policy papers, muck from the Tara/Skryne valley and the tears of all those eejits who voted for change.

C’mon, I have a health business.., er, health department to run…

ENDS

Anthony Sheridan
Tel: 021/4813833
Website: http://www.publicinquiry.eu/

shareefy said...

"Dick Roche is not leaving office to work on the streets of Calcutta. Oh Mary, please, don’t tell me that Martin Cullen is not really my fairy godmother"

Classic :D

Yabloko said...

Congratulations on entering government, it was a very pragmatic decision and one for which you had a strong mandate. Tara/Shannon/GM may get the grassroots excited but they're not the issues that got you elected. The party got votes because of a widespread desire for sustainable development and action on climate change, and joining a coalition is the only way to implement policy on either.

TheCitizen said...

Ciaran,
I would love to your opinion on An Taoiseach's Damscene conversion to the virtues of Beverly Cooper-Flynn and RTE's sweetheart deal with her. Is this what we can expect from the Greens in government?