Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Support our campaign to amend the Constitution to prevent privatization of water

Yesterday, the Green Party launched our ‘Our Water’ campaign, to encourage the Government to hold a referendum in the next year to put an article into the Constitution that would prohibit the privatization of Irish Water.

 

We are calling on the Government to hold a referendum on public ownership of water as a priority, before the end of their term of office. We wish to see the inclusion of the following new Article 10.5 into Bunreacht na hÉireann, which would state:

 

“The State shall treat drinking water as an essential resource and in the interests of the common good the State shall not provide for the privatisation or commercialisation of water services for the people”.  

 

There’s been a huge groundswell of public anxiety about water charges in the last few months. Much of this is based on uncertainty about the future of Irish Water – will it continue to raise its prices and will it one day be sold off to an international corporation. We can answer this second question now but changing the Constitution to ensure that this will never happen.

 

Enda Kenny himself said that any move to privatize water in this country would have “disastrous consequences”. We completely agree. But it’s not enough for the Taoiseach to make statements like that. He can take the issue of possible future privatisation off the table by bringing forward this referendum to amend the Constitution to ensure that water remains a public resource. The Government must act to provide the public with this level of reassurance.

 

You can sign the petition here and watch the campaign video (narrated by Dick Warner) here. The hash tag we are using for the campaign is #OurWater

Fingal councillors vote against Dublin Mayor plebiscite shows shocking contempt for voters

Yesterday’s decision by Fingal councillors to deny Dubliners the right to vote on proposals for a directly elected mayor was outrageous. While it is fair enough that some councillors may disagree with the idea itself, the fact that they have prevented the electorate having a say on the matter shows complete contempt for the views of the people who elected them

What was particularly shocking was the view expressed by many of the councillors that Fingal operates separately from the rest of Dublin and that we can survive as well, if not better, on our own. Fingal’s prosperity is absolutely linked with that of our capital city. Decisions made about planning, housing, public transport and waste collection impact upon us all. A counter motion, supported by nearly all councillors, that Dublin city should go ahead with a vote for a directly elected mayor, would be hugely damaging for Fingal and put us at a massive competitive disadvantage.

What this decision shows is that too many of the sitting councillors in Fingal have become too accustomed to the perks of their position, and have no interest in even considering reform. At the local elections in May, we need to elect new councillors who want to improve how local government works, for the benefit of all the citizens of Dublin. If I am elected, I pledge to do what I can to see yesterday’s decision about the directly elected Mayor reversed.

By-election should be held on the same day as Local and European Elections

Following Patrick Nulty’s resignation from the Dail, I think it is essential that the Government holds the by-election for Dublin West on the same day as the European and Local elections. While this by-election is sudden, holding it on the same day will  save money and allow the people of Dublin West have their full complement of representation in the Dail as soon as possible. Even though the legislation allows the by-election to be held up to six months after the vacancy arises, there is no reason to wait that long in this situation.

I’m proud to be in a political party that Mary Hanafin doesn’t recognise as a party!

 

So, Mary Hanafin doesn’t think that the Green Party are a proper party! This pleases me.

She sees us as being made up of “[…] different groups with diverse interests in the environment, nature, farming and so on,”

And she’s not wrong in this. The Green Party is a coalition of voices and views. But we are united around our 7 basic principles – principles we aspire to have implemented through policy. And we allow and even encourage discussion and debate within the Party as to the policies we adopt. We think this is a good thing – the wider the range of views canvassed, the better the resulting policies will be.

There once was a time when Fianna Fail was seen as a coalition of peoples as well – catching all from the small rural farmer to the urban middle class. But diversity of views died away in the Haughey and Ahern years: Uno Duce – Una Voce.

And during those Ahern years, Mary Hanafin was right at the centre of the system as Minister for State for Children, Chief Whip, Minister for Education and Minister for Social Affairs. So I see her view of the Green Party as being reflective of a very different approach to what politics should be. She understands the political party as a hierarchical and ridged device where decisions are centralised and filtered out to the unquestioning rank and file. We see the political party as a means of bringing people together and providing them with a platform to achieve policy change in different areas, but underlined by basic principles.

Clearly this  isn’t what Mary Hanafin thinks a political party is about, but it’s an approach to politics I’m proud to be part of.

Supporting a Directly Elected Mayor for Dublin

Last week I made my submission to the public consultation on a directly elected mayor being run by the four Dublin local authorities. In it, I called on the Government to introduce a directly elected mayor for Dublin who would be given strong executive powers. I’ve long believed that a coherent executive power in Dublin would help the region develop but would also allow much greater coordination of the delivery of services and the planning of long term infrastructure.

The public consultation is now over, but it looks like we will be having a referendum in the Dublin area on whether we want a mayor or not as part of the local elections next May. Assuming a strong office of mayor is proposed, I’ll definitely be supporting a Yes vote.

To Whom is may concern,

I would like to express my support for a directly elected mayor of Dublin, based on Option 2 – Directly Elected Mayor with strong executive powers operating with a Cabinet – as described in the Options Paper on www.mayor4dublin.ie

I believe that a directly elected mayor should have full responsibility for planning policy, traffic, public transport, water, community & recreation, heritage, waste policy and regional environmental functions. The office should also have limited functions in the area of policing (direct liaison role with the Gardai), economic development (bringing together the new economic departments of the Dublin local authorities) and education (overseeing a Dublin region VEC).

For the office to function properly and obtain public buy in, it is essential that genuine powers are devolved to it. The office of Mayor of London has been extremely successful, precisely because the mayor has so much influence on policy for the entire city.

As this will be a role with significant responsibilities, it is important that the office is held accountable outside the 5 year electoral cycle. I would support the proposal that the mayor would be answerable in the performance of his/her functions to a Dublin Assembly of 10 members. While my preference would be for these to be directly elected, in light of the need to save money, I can see a case for them being appointed from the four Dublin local authorities. However, I feel this appointment should be on the basis of a mandate obtained from Dublin voters. I would propose that on the day the mayor is elected there should be a second ballot where voters are asked which party they would like to see in the Dublin Assembly. Seats would be allocated on the basis of this vote, with the seats being filled by councilors elected to the four local authorities on the same day.

The cost argument is often used to oppose the notion of a directly elected mayor. The huge growth that Dublin has experienced over the last 15 years has often been unplanned, which has had serious consequences regarding the provision of education facilities, transport infrastructure, waste water facilities etc. There is a huge and unquantifiable cost to this – a cost in lost productivity across our city, which is many times in excess of the price of a directly elected mayor’s office.

Yours sincerely,

Roderic O’Gorman

Great No vote in Dublin West to Seanad abolition

I’m delighted that the voters of Dublin West gave such a resounding No vote to the referendum to abolish the Seanad. The No vote was 57.6%, one of the top five no votes in the country. Strong votes like this helped the No campaign to its narrow 1.7% win.

Talking to Dublin 15 residents during the campaign, there was a real feeling that this referendum was being rushed. People wanted to see some efforts to reform the Seanad before abolition was discussed.

The Government have an opportunity now to move new proposals through the Constitutional Convention. The Seanad needs to be democratically elected, but also serve as a check on Dail and Government, so as to prevent bad legislation being rushed through.

Running for the Local Elections next year

 

It will come as no big surprise to people that I’m going to stand in the local elections next May. I’ve been selected by the Green Party to run in the Castleknock ward, which covers Blakestown, Blanchardstown, Carpenterstown, Castleknock, Laraghcon and the Strawberry Beds. I’m really looking forward to the campaign and meeting people in all these areas over the next nine months.

Dublin 15 is a great area to live, work and raise kids in. However, I think we can always do more to make it better. That’s why over the last 9 years, I’ve campaigned on issues like proper planning, adequate school places and public transport provision. These issues still need to be tackled and I know that if I am elected as a councillor next May, I can work more effectively in delivering on these priorities.

Too often, people tell me they feel that Fingal County Council is out of touch with the needs of the communities in Dublin 15 and that its services are difficult to access. I believe that county councillors need to be active, accessible and deeply aware of the issues and concerns in each neighbourhood. This is the type of councillor that I will be if I am elected.

It’s hard to find a family in Ireland that hasn’t been hit by unemployment or emigration over the last few years. It is vital that Fingal County Council takes a lead role in promoting opportunities for job creation across Dublin 15. As I campaign over the next nine months, I’ll be setting out ideas on how the Council can support employment initiatives.

Obviously, an election campaign is a big undertaking. If you are interested in some of the issues that I’ve raised, or would like to help out, please get in touch.

We should vote Yes to the Children’s Rights Referendum

On the 10th November, we will be voting in the Children’s Rights Referendum, on a proposal to insert a new Article 42A on Children’s Rights into the Constitution.

I am strongly supporting a Yes vote. I believe that adding the new Article 42A to the Constitution will change the law in a number of key ways, which will strengthen the legal position of all children in the country.

The new Article 42A.1 will see the rights of all children officially recognised in the Constitution for the first time. Judges will be able to use this provision to further expand the protection of children. The State will now have the same power to intervene in situations where the safety or welfare of children is at risk using the new Article 42A.2.1. This article will also see children being treated the same irrespective of whether the child’s parents are married or not.

The adoption of children from broken homes will be made easier through Articles 42A.2.2 and 42A.3. Further, Article 42A.4 will mean that children will be entitled to have their own views heard in court proceedings about them, such as guardianship, custody and access, when this is appropriate.

Obviously, changing the Constitution will not immediately resolve every difficulty faced by children in our country. However, this proposal marks a significant change in the relationship between the law and children and works to make the child the centre of legal concern. For these reasons, it deserves to be supported.