24 Jun 2009

Irish Green Party damage Green politics internationally

This is a photo from the Save Tara campaign.

Tara Group Smoke Out Greens

The Irish Sun - Tuesday, September 9, 2008

DEMONSTRATORS Siobhan Rice, Vincent Salafia and Colm MacNiallais, of the Save Tara Campaign don fat cat suits and smoke cigars to protest at Green Party headquarters in Dublin yesterday. They say the land for road construction at Tara highlights the Greens ’sell-out’ since entering government with Fianna Fail. The fuming trio also slammed the party’s failure to deliver on their pre-election promises. A recent carbon tax call by the Greens as well as their support for budget cuts in spending on public transport, such as the Metro and the Western rail link were raised by protestors.

Here are my most recent thoughts on the Irish Green Party:

A calamitous coalition

The Irish Green Party has provided a textbook example of how not to do green politics. Who would have thought a Green Party would cut bus services and support motorway-building through a heritage site? Who would have believed that a Green government elected partly because of its opposition to the Iraq war would allow US war planes to refuel in Ireland at Shannon?
The Irish Greens have had councillors, MEPs and members of the Irish parliament elected because of the country's system of proportional representation.
Ireland has two centre-right political parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, which have often been linked to allegations of corruption involving property deals.
The Greens made their name as critics of Fianna Fail. In February 2007, Green leader Trevor Sargent told the Irish Times: "I do not see myself leading the party into coalition with Fianna Fail due to its culture of bad planning, corruption and bad standards."
However, after the May 2007 general election, Sargent resigned as leader and 80 per cent of party members voted to join a Fianna Fail government in coalition.
The results have been catastrophic.
In Mayo, local people believe that a gas pipeline and processing plant being built by Shell will create pollution and bring no benefit to the local community.
The Irish Green Party, which once strongly supported the Mayo protesters, has become silent since joining the government.
Worst of all from an environmental point of view, the government is building a motorway through Tara, perhaps Ireland's most important political landscape.
The Greens have acted as a "mud guard," taking the flak for Fianna Fail's actions. The Irish economy, based on cuts in corporation tax and banking deregulation, has been in freefall. What is the difference, it is said, between Ireland and Iceland. The answer? One letter and six months.
Savage cutbacks in public services have been introduced and the Greens have presided over cuts in the Dublin bus services.
Before the coalition was created, prominent party member Ciaran Cuffe argued: "Let's be clear. A deal with Fianna Fail would be a deal with the devil. We would be spat out after five years and decimated as a party."
True words indeed.
In June's elections, the party lost nearly all its councillors, failed to get any MEPs elected and was nearly beaten in Dublin by a former member Patricia McKenna, who had left in disgust.
The Green Party now looks likely to stay in government, even if Fianna Fail were to import nuclear weapons and declare war on Scotland or introduce pesticides into school milk. The Green MPs know that if they left government, there would be a general election and they would lose their seats and salaries.
It looks likely that the party will disappear for perhaps a generation.
This is tragic given the urgency of problems such as climate change. The damage done to Green politics internationally is too large to measure.
However, we should not simply cry betrayal and refuse to participate in electoral politics.
The Latin American left has shown it is possible to use the state to help build an alternative. Greens in Europe have created some positive changes. In Scotland the Greens have not gone into government with the SNP but have supported them on progressive measures. Likewise in London, Green Party members supported much of the progressive work of former mayor Ken Livingstone.
While politics involves inevitable compromises, the pursuit of office can sometimes erode all real political gain.
The late great German Green Petra Kelly argued that the Greens should be an "anti-party party." Perhaps her words need to be rediscovered.


James Mackenzie said...

Attacking them damages Green politics internationally.

By all means argue in GPEW against going into government when the time comes, but all you do here is aid the enemies of Green politics in Ireland.

Red Green Nick said...

Green politics is not what the Green Party does, if a "Green" party fails to act in a Green manner then it should be fair game!

Leviathan said...

Derek, you have not mentioned one of our achievements since entering government, which is telling in itself. You are of course, like many others, not interested in achievements, merely opposition. And that's fine if that's what your political focus is, but it is not our's and I think we were very honest about that during the last election, when the focus of our campaign was our eagerness to enter government and get things done, rather than continue with the sniping that characterises Irish opposition. The new Planning bill is going to revolutionise the way zoning and development occurs in the this country in the long term, and I for one will be proud of the work we've done, whilst knowing full well that we will be absolutely wiped out afterwards. We're not here to be popular, we're hear to get things done,at a time of severe national crisis.

Derek Wall said...

if I was in a government building a motorway next to Avebury or Stonehenge....I would deserve to be criticised.

Fianna Fail are institutionally corrupt, supporting them in power is plain wrong.

There is a severe ecological crisis on this planet and the Irish Green Party are damaging the ability of greens internationally to tackle it.

James said...

I am absolutely horrified at how the Greens have behaved in office in Ireland. It's been all about paying lipservice to ecological buzz words and CFL bulbs!

Meanwhile, the basics have been ignored. This party has already allowed draconian anti-blasphemy legislation to be passed, curtailing the freedom of speech and it is poised to allow the passage of a Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act which will remove the right to trail by jury for a whole range of gang-land crimes, despite the very vocal opposition of human rights groups, and 150 leading solicitors and barristers, including many of our prosecutors!

This is despite all sorts of pledges in their manifesto to stick up for human rights, freedom of speech etc.

On the ecological side, they have achieved very little. Dublin and Cork have both seen curtailments of public transport services with bus routes being cut. In Cork City these routes have been removed in poorer areas of the city, areas that actually rely on bus routes while more affluent and politically influential areas have kept their busses.

The Hill of Tara, as previously mentioned is being put at risk by the development of a motorway.

The Corrib Gas Field concerns are not being addressed.

In Cork Harbour, a major industrial waste site which contains all sorts of material from the old Irish Steel site is being ignored.

The list is endless!

I really had high hopes for the Irish Green Party, but unfortunately they have become worse than the most grubby of Fianna Fail back benchers. They won't do anything to rock the boat, they are not holding the Government to account on anything and have completely betrayed the Green electorate.

I'm afraid they have completely destroyed the entire Green movement in Ireland and it will take a decade or longer to recover.

Please, if you have any influence in the European or Global Green political movement, put as much pressure on the Irish Green Party as you can. They need to be snapped out of this Stockholm syndrome that they appear to be suffering from.

I really think the broader Green Movement needs to look at taking some kind of sanctions against them e.g. asking them to leave the European Greens or something that might point out that they have completely abandoned their core principles.

Anonymous said...

This analysis is broadly typical of what is wrong with Green politics, in that very many people who think they are involved in Green politics are actually involved in moral crusades, that are built around vanity and arrogance rather than any sense of urgency regarding what is happening to our planet.

I was a candidate for the Green Party in Ireland last month. I didn't get elected, but I'd gladly sacrifice public office for even a fraction of what we have achieved in the last 2 years.

For instance, we've completely changed our motor tax system, to the extent that there are more fuel efficient cars on our roads than ever before, and to the extent that captains of the motor industry regularly appear in the national media fulminating about how the Irish Green Party has destroyed their livelihoods.

We've also reformed local government, changed Ireland's position on GMOs at the EU Council, published new planning laws, banned inefficient lightbulbs, introduced a new drinking water licensing system, fully implemented the Nitrates Directive, introduced residential smart meters, introduced a granted aided home insulation scheme, published new building regulations in relation to energy efficiency and commenced a micro power generation at domestic level.

Most importantly, the next budget will almost certainly introduce a Carbon Tax, which would have been unthinkable in Ireland 5 years ago.

Tara, Shannon etc and every other cliches that opponents of the Irish Green come up with were all issues that were effectively resolved before the Greens enter Government.

To advance these as reasons why the Irish Green Green shouldn't have coalesced would be equivalent to saying that the GPEW shouldn't coalesce because of the Poll Tax or Sellafield.

Greens all over the world are going to have to realise that pragmatism is an essential component of the Green Political Movement. The German, Finish, Czech and Irish Greens have all woken up to this reality.

The High Moral Ground that the likes of Derek Wall has occupied for so long is a comfortable place, but you only have 2 choices when you're there: stay where you are, or come down.

Derek Wall said...

Its tragic you don't admit to your mistakes, there is no room for moralising or taking high ground, there is a very severe crisis on this planet and we have to think seriously about the best strategy...no easy task I agree

Alas your actions by discrediting green politics mean it is likely to be terminal.

I certainly work hard for green politics, canvassing, doing direct action and supporting the indigenous in places like Peru.

I have got kids and they are far less likely to have a good future because of your actions

Derek Wall said...

Green building motorways,,,,and you expect me not to criticise you...fuck fuck fuck off

Anonymous said...

You may work hard for the Green Movement, but you've achieved nothing in Green Politics.

When the GPEW bring about a Carbon Tax in the UK, we'll gladly entertain your criticisms.

And the Irish Greens have never built any motorways. The M3 motorway that you seem so fascinated about was routed and authorised in 2004, and construction commenced in 2006. The Greens entered Government in 2007.

The only involvement they had had in this episode is in a decision whether to remove a monument or leave it in situe (and re-route the road by about 30 metres).

The Chief Archaeologist working with the Conservation Group suggested removal, which was the advice the relevant Green Minister followed.

But lets not let facts get in the way of a good bout of sloganising.

You've been banging your drum about the Irish Greens for the last 2 years, but you've never acknowledged that we have only 6 MPs out of the 86 that form the Government, or that coalition governments, and the necessary compromises that they involve, have been the norm in Ireland since the 1970s.

Marcus said...

Derek you have absolutely no clue. If you were going to give a proper analysis of our performance in govt you would have weighed up the GOOD things we have acheieved and then look at the BAD things we have been unable to change.

As a previous post stated, the motorway was authorised in 2004, the Greens didnt enter govt until 2007! These are things we have failed to change but we didnt instigate them. So for you to froth at the mouth and blog things like we are building it is completely ridiculous.

We will most likely be wiped out at the next election, all we can do is hold on and hope things get better.

But we have achieved more in Ireland in the past two years than 20 years in opposition.

Marcus said...

Also Derek, you telling us to 'fuck off' really just shows your own mentality or lack of it.

I will be at the Conference in Brighton in September and hope you wont use such aggresive language against me when you go on another tirade.

Knight of Tara said...

Marcus and Anonymous, I was a campaigner on the Campaign to Save Tara for years, from 2007. The Irish Green Party may not have authorized the M3, but they campaigned for stopping it and not only did they fail to stop it, they helped in its construction, which still isn't finished. They could have stopped it all, but instead they gave us the middle finger and became enemies of Tara. Gormless destroyed the henge at Lismullin, which was probably an amphitheatre used for Druidic practices. As a pagan, this is a grave insult. The ghosts of Tara will never forgive the Greens for this treason and desecration. As for me, my rage at this insult and betrayal is too much to forget. The Irish Green Party (alongside Fianna Fail) will always be my enemy, no matter what. Unless they can remove that motorway and make Tara as it once was, that isn't going to change.

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