27 June, 2007
Well, we've lost our innocence, and that's for sure. The memories of that day of debate and discussion in the Mansion House will stay with us all for a long time.
I think being part of Government is positive. The issues can't wait, and despite the long list of what we didn't get, I think the deliverables are many.
The Programme for Government can also be the starting point for other initiatives that individual Ministers take. Much of what a Minister does isn't headline news, but indicators such as John Gormley's appointment of Dr. Conor Newman to a Committee to provide advice on the Lismullin archaeological find close to Tara is welcome. For me, the big issue there, if we can't move the road, is to ensure that the surroundings of the proposed Blundlestown interchange don't become an American strip-mall, and that requires determination from both John and Meath County Council.
The inter-twined issues of climate change and energy are two of the biggest issues that we have to face over the next five years. While I don't think that we'll convert Fianna Fáil to the cause overnight, I do think that we'll be able to nudge the wheel of the ship of State onto a slightly more sustainable course that could steer us clear of some of the shoals and shallows that lie ahead. We were never going to get everything that we wanted, but I think for a Party with 6 out of the 166 seats as opposed to Fianna Fáil's 78 we got an OK deal.
One of the big challenges is changing focus from being a small campaigning party of opposition to being a party of Government. When I heard of the latest killing in Mountjoy Prison I immediately went back to my press release from five weeks ago , with a view to saying I told you so. However, as part of the Government, albeit a back-bencher, what I need to do is ensure that the new Minister for Justice addresses my concerns. I have high hopes that Brian Lenihan will make a decent go of it.
In the months and years ahead we'll have to ensure that our Programme gets implemented, but also continue to put issues on the agenda that are often seen as peripheral to mainstream politics.
We won't always get what we want, but on the issues where we disagree, we'll do our best to try and bring our partners around to our way of thinking.
13 June, 2007
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.