Monthly Archive for March, 2007

General election candidates in Dublin West have to be careful in the language we use in discussing immigration and integration

This morning I wrote to all my fellow general election candidates in Dublin West, asking for their agreement that we all exercise care in the language we use on the campaign trail when discussing immigration and integration.

I’m making this call in light of recent remarks made by another candidate in front of a group of children which included comments like “open floodgates” and “let too many in too quick”. Now, people regularly express concern over immigration and integration to me on the doorsteps. I’m not saying we don’t discuss these issues, or that we can’t have different opinions. But I do think it’s vital that we don’t use language that is hurtful or likely to be divisive in our community, especially when children are involved.

I’m not trying to single anyone out here, so I’m not naming the individual in question. However, I do think it’s vital that as general election candidates, when we engage in debate with each other or with the voters in Dublin 15 on a delicate issue like immigration, we do so in a responsible fashion. Resorting to easy stereotypes will not progress this issue any further. I hope my opponents in the Dublin West constituency can agree with me on this.

Below is the text of the letter that I have sent to the other candidates.

Dear …,

I am writing to yourself and all the general election candidates in Dublin 15 regarding the language we use in discussing the issues of immigration and integration during this campaign.

These are issues that regularly come up for me on the doorsteps, and I’m sure you have had similar experiences. As such, they are legitimate topics for debate and for differing views. However, I do think it is vital that in discussing these issues, we do not use language that is hurtful or likely to be divisive in our community.

At a recent forum for young children, a candidate made remarks including “open floodgates” and “let too many in too quick”. I stress that I am not trying to attack anyone with this, but I think such language is inappropriate if we are to have a mature debate on these issues. I particularly think the language is inappropriate in the presence of children, both Irish and of non-Irish parents.

I hope you can agree with me that if issues such as immigration and integration come up in debates between candidates or on the doorsteps, we can all treat the issues in a responsible fashion.

Kind regards

_______________________

Roderic O’Gorman

Press Release – Lack of facilities and problems with Guards still the main issues for young people in Dublin 15 – O’Gorman

27/03/07

A lack of facilities and problems in their dealings with the Guards are still the main problems being experienced by young people in Dublin 15. This was the opinion of Dublin West Green Party candidate, Roderic O’Gorman. He was speaking after the ‘Today’s Voice, Tomorrow’s Vote’ forum where general election candidates came before a group of 12 – 16 years olds from the Greater Blanchardstown area to hear what the young people thought was important and answer their questions.

“3 years ago in the run up to the 2004 local elections I attended a similar forum in the Mulhuddart Community Centre. The issues that came up tonight are almost exactly the same as came up then: a major lack of appropriate sporting and social facilities; problems in dealings with the Gardai; exploitation of young people at work; and an unsafe environment. The fact that the very same issues are cropping up three years later suggest that very little has been done to deal with them over this time”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.

“Time and again, people on the doorsteps raise with me their worry about young people ‘hanging around’. However, the simple fact is that in Dublin 15, there is very little for young people to do. That’s why we need to invest money in facilities like youth café’s, playgrounds, playing pitches and other recreational facilities. The big property developers who are making millions from the housing market should be forced to make payments to contribute to such facilities”.

“The creation of a Community Policing Forum in Fingal, and the Safer Blanchardstown Forum locally, could be an opportunity to allow young people let their voices be heard when it comes to policing in Dublin 15, but the structure of these organizations need to be changed to allow this dialogue to take place as of right. We have many young people in our area who want to get engaged in bringing about positive change, lets give them the opportunity to do it”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.

Ends

Press Release – ‘Throwing good money after bad’ – Government waste further money on Thornton Hall misadventure – O’Gorman

Dublin West Green Party candidate, Roderic O’Gorman, has accused the FF/PD Government of “throwing good money after bad” in relation to the proposal to move Mountjoy prison to a location at Thornton Hall in north Dublin. He made the comments after it was announced that the Government had spent €26 million to buy out a site beside Mountjoy prison.

“This just keeps getting better. A few months ago, Michael McDowell launched his glossy ‘Mountjoy Village’ idea, telling the public how much money would be recouped to the State by selling off the Mountjoy site to private developers. Now it appears that the taxpayer actually has to fork out an extra €26 million to make this project viable. €26 million is almost the same price that the Government paid for the Thornton Hall site in north Dublin in the first place, which everyone now acknowledges was a complete rip-off”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.

“Across Dublin West, I see communities crying out for investment in sporting and youth facilities, yet the Minister for Justice continues throwing money at the vanity project that is Thornton Hall. The whole idea of relocating Mountjoy to that location goes against all ideas of good planning – it is an unsuitable location for prisoners’ families to access and a massively unfair burden for the small rural communities of Rolestown and St. Margarets. How much more of taxpayers’ money will Michael McDowell be allowed throw at this before someone calls a halt?”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.

Ends

Fine Gael and Labour all over the place on the environment. I respond to recent comments by Pat Rabbitte and Leo Varadkar

I know I’ll probably be accused of going negative with this, but some comments by Pat Rabbitte in the Blanch Gazette on the 18th March really annoyed me.

In response to a question by Bryan Collins about the increased support for the Green Party in opinion polls, Pat Rabbitte stated “Its like what gear is in this year and what gear is out”. If Pat really thinks that the increased support seen for the Green Party is just a fad, then he couldn’t be more wrong. On the doorsteps, people tell me they are turning to the Green Party because they see the problems caused in Dublin 15 in areas like education and transport by the failure to plan properly. They also see the real threat posed by climate change. Pat Rabbitte trivialises these concerns at his peril.

I was also somewhat amused to read Fine Gael’s recent leaflet on the environment distributed to homes in Dublin 15 in which Cllr. Varadkar outlines his party’s conversion to green thinking. It’s great to see that after 25 years of the Green Party highlighting the importance of environmental issues, the other parties are finally catching on. For example, we in the Green Party have been advocating a ‘Zero Waste’ policy for years. It appears that Fine Gael has now adopted the same policy – it’s just a pity they hadn’t seen the light when they were last in government between 1994 – 1997.

I was also glad to see Cllr. Varadkar endorsing the higher energy standards for new buildings that the Green Party councillors on Fingal CC introduced, especially since only a few months ago, he was mocking these same standards and describing the houses built according to them as ‘hippy homes’. Leo’s so ‘green’ these days, maybe I’ll send him a membership form for the Green Party after the election!

As people become more and more aware of the dangers of climate change and the huge stress put on our education and public transport systems by the failure of proper planning, all the other parties are falling over themselves in order to be seen to be green. Fianna Fail are at the same thing at their Ard Feis this weekend.

At the end of the day however, there is only one real Green in Dublin West.

Ahern completely wrong on Thursday voting

I can’t understand what Bertie Ahern is thinking in his opposition to Friday voting. I’ve spoken to countless people living in Dublin 15 who tell me they fully intend to go home to the country to vote when the time comes. Very few of them will make the journey down on a Thursday evening after work, then turn around and come straight back up for work on Friday.

I think it will be grossly unfair if the election is held on a Thursday and will deny thousands of people the opportunity to cast their ballots.

Green Party launches further Education Policy initiatives – extra funding for primary level

Our Education Spokesperson, Paul Gogarty TD has just launched another batch of initiatives from our Education Policy – Press Release

These measures are aimed specifically at primary level. If in government after the general election, we are proposing that the annual capitation grant that each primary school gets per pupil each year will be doubled from €163.58 to €325. Further, we will increase the ICT (Information & Communications Technology) grant from the current €54 per pupil to €100 each year. The costs of these measures will be €92 million per annum, but I firmly believe that investment in our kids at this stage of their education will pay off many times over in years to come. If we want a world class education system for our children, we have to be prepared to pay for it.

These proposals follow on from our commitment to enshrine a legal maximum class size of 25 at primary level if we are elected to government, and to provide the necessary €42 million in salary costs for extra teachers to make the commitment a reality. The INTO are currently running a campaign on this issue – I attended their Dublin West meeting on the issue and I blogged on it last week. The Green Party is the only party to pledge to enshrine a maximum class size of 25 in legislation if we are in government after the election. There are going to be a lot of politicians calling to people’s doors over the next two months and I would urge parents to demand that the other parties follow our lead.

Our full Education Policy can be seen here at www.50steps.com

Press Release: I won’t be getting too excited about increase in election spending limit – O’Gorman

16/03/07

Green Party Dublin West candidate, Roderic O’Gorman has declared that he won’t be getting too excited about the increase in the amount that candidates can spend during the general election campaign. He was speaking after the Minister for Environment, Dick Roche, increased the spending limits.

“I’m sure some of my constituency colleagues are popping the champagne corks with the news that they can spend over €30,000 on the election campaign, but not me. As the only party that doesn’t accept corporate donations, we have much more limited resources than the other parties, so spending over the limit was never something I was at risk of doing”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.

Minister Roche raised the limit set in 2002 by the maximum amount possible. In a 3 seat constituency like Dublin West, candidates can spend up to €30,150, an increase of €4,750, during the 3 week campaign.

“Already many of my constituency rivals have their faces adorning bins and bus stops across Dublin 15. In the 2004 local election, I spent less than €900 and while I didn’t get elected, the Green Party got the best return in numbers of votes to euros spent compared with all the other parties. Some of the other candidates in that election spent up to €20,000. It goes to show that the Green Party really is value for your vote!”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.

Ends

Kevin Myers is wrong (again) on climate change

Rational debate on any issue is important. No matter how convinced you are of the merit of an argument, I think it’s always vital to listen to, understand and engage with the views of your opponents, no matter how strongly you disagree.

It’s with some reluctance that I abandon this inclusive stance and say that Kevin Myers is an idiot.

In Thursday’s Irish Independent (15th March), Myers wrote,

“There is nothing mankind can do about global warming. Nothing. There is not even any proof that mankind caused it, merely evidence that it exists – for the moment anyway”.

According to Myers, the language surrounding the climate change debate it worthless. He denies that the term ‘carbon footprint’ has any meaning. He compares it to the “indulgences which were once hawked around Europe to pay for the reconstruction of St. Peter’s Basilica”.

The weight of scientific consensus, which has been building for years and most conclusively finds expression in the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is no match for the knowledge of the Indo’s finest brain.

Myers outlines how adhering to a belief in climate change and taking the necessary measures to address it “will inevitably limit growth”. He’s not wrong there. It will. But he neglects to mention the conclusion of the Stern Report (written by an economist – not a “hysterical babbling green”) that it is estimated that while taking measures to combat climate change will cost between 1 – 5% of global GDP, failure to act will cost 5 – 20% of global GDP. That’s a lot more, Kevin.

Perhaps the reference to “hysterical babbling green” gives us some idea of what Myers is really upset about. He has a long history of hostility to our party. I remember reading a piece he had written in the Irish Times before the invasion of Iraq. Myers imagined that the Green Party held its policy meetings naked at Newgrange, where we would greet each other by sniffing bottoms (I’m not kidding, he wrote this). All caustically hilarious, but I think history has shown that it was the bum sniffers in the Green Party and others who were correct on Iraq.

There is no doubting that Kevin Myers has an elegant turn of phrase. It’s unquestionable that he can alliterate with the best of them – he is the master of hyperbole. But alliteration and hyperbole can never be a substitute for argument based on facts. And unfortunately, facts are very short on the ground in Thursday’s piece in the Indo. The debate over mankind’s responsibility for climate change has moved on. It’s time Kevin Myers did likewise.