This is a time when we need truly Green representatives more than ever. There is no end in sight to our health and housing crises. Our transport, agriculture and energy sectors are creating huge volumes of greenhouse gases which are accelerating climate change. Our seas are choking with plastic. Co. Councils and state agencies such as Irish Rail are recklessly destroying mature trees and hedgerows nationwide.
On May 24th, myself - Liam Quaide - and Senator Grace O’Sullivan will be running in the local and European elections. Prior to becoming a Senator, Grace was an environmental campaigner for thirty years. She is the Green Party European candidate for Ireland South. I am a Clinical Psychologist and the party’s Co. Council candidate in East Cork (Midleton LEA).
Grace and I recently met locals at the Midleton Farmers' Market. We spoke to parents who have not had adequate support for their children with disabilities. Young couples told us of their struggles to find affordable accomodation. Several older people expressed deep concern that their grandchildren’s future would be overshadowed by climate change. Market traders complained of being entangled in red tape when setting up small businesses. We take it as our duty to address these challenges.
The threat of climate change
The UN has warned that we have eleven years to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions or face “catastrophic and irreversible climate change”. This would involve recurring weather extremes leading to major destruction of property and infrastructure, mass migrations of climate refugees and, eventually, widespread food shortages. Our government has ignored the science on climate change, and Ireland is the worst performing EU country on this issue. The result for our exchequer is EU emission fines of €600m per year from 2020 – more than the National Children’s Hospital overspend. Our government has also blocked every piece of legislation proposed by opposition parties to address climate change and plastic pollution, and has failed to propose adequate legislation of their own.
The benefits of climate action
To meet the enormous challenge of climate change we need serious political leadership and joined up thinking at local, national and European levels. The Green Party needs your votes to bring this about. Real climate action for East Cork would mean:
- Expanding our public transport system so that East Cork commuters could take a regular train to Cork city and from there a LUAS to Mahon, Ballincollig or Wilton
- Developing a joined up network of cycle lanes
- Ensuring that our houses and businesses have solid flood protection
- East Cork being part of a national retrofitting programme that would upgrade the insulation of our existing housing stock.
- East Cork farmers being supported to move to more sustainable forms of agriculture such as organic meat and vegetable production.
- East Cork villages and towns having community-owned renewable energy projects
- Single-use plastics banned at source
Real climate action would greatly improve our health and quality of life. We would no longer have to endure the stress and exhaustion associated with traffic gridlock. Our children would be able to cycle to school away from the danger and pollution of traffic. Our homes would be warmer. Air pollution, which currently accounts for 1500 premature deaths in Ireland per year, would reduce significantly. Our small farmers would make a decent living and our food would be healthier.
A fair society
Our public services are the fabric of our society. Under our government we have seen increased over-crowding in hospitals and longer waiting-lists for disability assessments and supports. Our nurses are emigrating in large numbers to seek better work conditions elsewhere. There has been no commitment to increased staffing levels for our mental health services to account for our rising population since the framework document Vision for Change was published in 2006. Many of our older citizens are living out their later years in nursing-homes which do not provide them with adequate stimulation or social connection.
All of these problems are linked to our current politics. Ireland is increasingly set up to serve the needs of wealthy individuals and large corporations at the expense of the wider community.
Community at the centre of politics
The Green Party is committed to putting community at the centre of politics. We recognise that when people feel valued and connected and are supported to achieve their potential, we all benefit. We would strengthen our communities by giving more funding to youth clubs and senior citizens’ groups. We would set up a Rural Support Agency for communities that have seen young people move away and buildings fall into disrepair. We would expand rural public transport so that people living in isolated areas could easily access towns such as Midleton and Youghal. We would work to ensure our nursing homes provide far more than basic care, and are mini-communities where our older citizens can go on making connections and pursuing meaningful goals. We would fight for more ground level staff in our health and disability services. We would pursue major state investment in social and affordable housing.
On May 24th we would greatly appreciate your Number 1 votes. We would be proud to serve East Cork and Ireland South. We would help create a compassionate society, backed up by a sustainable economy, where the protection of our children’s future is core to political decision-making.
For further details / to arrange interviews contact Senator Grace O’Sullivan on 087 2932271/ Liam Quaide on 087 7720367