My name is Liam Quaide and I am a Clinical Psychologist working in the Adult Mental Health Services. I’m running as a Green Party candidate in the local Council elections in May 2019. My constituency is the new Midleton Local Electoral Area which covers Midleton and Youghal, and includes Ballycotton, Cloyne, Rostellan, Killeagh, Castlemartyr, Mogeely, Lisgoold, and Dungourney. As a mental health professional I have developed an in-depth understanding of the many social challenges our citizens face. These include substandard housing, limited access to healthcare, and isolation.
I am proud to work in our health service and to be part of a team of remarkably dedicated colleagues. I have been been very fulfilled over the years by my work with clients and humbled by what they have taught me about the hardships of life and the potential to come through the greatest challenges. I also see that our health system is failing many people, and there is no denying the need to recruit many more frontline staff. We cannot meaningfully deal with waiting lists in disability and health services without doing so.
From psychologist to representative
As I learned more about the threat of climate change following the birth of my daughter in 2016, I became deeply concerned about the world she will grow up in. I decided to get involved in politics at this point. I was drawn to the Greens as the only party that was fully tuned into the urgency of climate action. Like many people, I tended to pigeonhole the Greens over the years as being solely concerned with the environment. I cared about the environment but was more exercised by human rights and social justice issues. I now realise that climate change is the major human rights and social justice issue of our time, which will primarily affect our young and the next generation. This reality was passionately conveyed by members of the public to local politicians during a cross-party climate action forum in the Midleton Park Hotel last week, which I played a part in organising.
As I became more familiar with the Green Party, I realised that they are as impressive on a range of social issues as they are on the environment. They are committed to high quality public services and have serious vision when it comes to building a fairer and more inclusive society, which is backed up by a strong economy.
The dangers of climate change
In October, the United Nations published a landmark report predicting catastrophic and irreversible climate change if all societies do not transition rapidly from fossil fuels to clean energy. Far from being a remote concern, climate change is increasingly a local issue. It has been attributed to the prolonged drought and fodder crisis affecting farmers over the last year, and to Storms Ophelia and Emma.
In the coming years we can expect increasingly extreme and erratic weather – heat waves, violent storms, and intense flooding. These will impact severely on our infrastructure and property and eventually our food systems. As we are particularly vulnerable to flooding in East Cork, any proposed flood defence systems need to be independently reviewed in light of the higher sea level rises forecasted in the recent UN report.
Due to our government’s inaction, Ireland will fall well short of its 2020 EU greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. As a result we are facing fines of €600 million per year from 2021. This is tax-payers’ money that could have been spent on much-needed houses or hospitals or public transport.
The benefits of climate action
Climate action involves a transformation for the better in how we live. If Ireland joins with a growing number of countries on the path to carbon neutrality, we will play our part in safeguarding our children’s future. In so doing, we will also enjoy immense economic and health benefits. As an island nation, Ireland is ideally placed to develop wind energy and create thousands of sustainable jobs. We have similar potential with solar energy. We should be pursuing a large-scale national retrofitting plan, which would greatly increase the energy efficiency of our existing housing stock; this would lead to warmer homes and improved air quality.
Instead of enduring the stress and exhaustion of being stuck in traffic for a good part of our working day, we should develop a modern, joined-up public transport system. For people who are taking shorter trips, we should have a network of dedicated cycling paths – these are the norm in countries such as Holland and Denmark, where traffic gridlock is much less of a problem and children commonly cycle to school away from the dangers and pollution of traffic.
The Green Party is acutely conscious of how small farmers are struggling to make a living. We believe that farmers should be rewarded for storing carbon and much better supported to move to sustainable forms of agriculture.
My vision for East Cork
As a Green Party candidate I believe I have something different to offer East Cork voters. I have a vision for the region that does not involve us stewing in traffic for a good part of our working day, or enduring lengthy queues for basic services, or having our environment trashed with litter. I will work to ensure that our health, education, and disability services are equipped to meet the needs of all our citizens. I will campaign for an integrated public transport system and a network of cycle lanes. I will fight for security of tenure, fair rents, and affordable house prices. I will make our flood defences a priority. I will campaign for a modern, joined-up public transport system that eases pressure on our roads and allows commuters to travel to work/college with relative ease. I will also promote enforcement of littering laws and campaign to have our County Councils better resourced to look after our public spaces. I have serious commitment and energy and I hope I will get the opportunity to represent you.