03 June, 2011
Where to begin?
We ran, we lost, and the rebuilding must now begin. Three months later I’m only just realising the pressure that we were all operating under for the last few years. It was difficult enough as a TD and as a Minister of State. I can only imagine what it was like for Eamon and John sitting at the Cabinet table.
There were also enormous pressures on our Oireachtas and head office staff who now find themselves out of work. Still, I’m relatively optimistic about the prospects for the Party in the longer term. We’ve always prided ourselves on the strong voluntary ethos of the Party. Now that will be put to the test.
There’s a great opportunity now to start afresh, with the benefit of our experience from the last thirty years, and from our four years in Government. While many of our current policies are detailed and carefully considered, they are of an era that preceded the Financial Crisis. Now we need to wipe the slate clean of policies and start afresh with just our seven principles to guide us. New policies must be crisp, clear and written in plain English. Our experience allows us to produce distinct policies that can be readily implemented the next time we’re in Government. We now need to show that we can do more with less, and ensure that the vulnerable will benefit from any changes that we propose. Environmental charges make sense, but not the flat charges for water and property that Phil Hogan appears to be currently pursuing.
The Green Party reformed planning and energy policy and has the potential to achieve so much more. We were on the cusp of changing the way politics is funded, about to restructure local government and provide a directly elected mayor for Dublin. All of that preparation can and will continue.
The Party now needs to appoint bright young voices as well as the voices of experience to speak for us. We have the luxury of time on our side to regroup before the next significant elections in three years time. We must reach out to campaigners who are fighting for causes that we’re only just beginning to understand. We can borrow from the campaigning methods of the Facebook and Twitter revolutions in the Middle East, but we must also learn from the way the GAA is grounded in our communities. We need to call up new members once they’ve joined, meet them for a coffee, and get them working on worthwhile projects. These are challenges for our new leader and a new National Executive.
I’ll still licking my wounds from electoral defeat, but I’m proud of what we achieved despite the economic tsunami that we had to deal with in Government. I’m staying involved, but I’m certainly enjoying the work life balance that I’ve discovered after twenty years as an elected representative for the Party.