Gormley wants funding changes

 

The newly elected leader of the Green Party, Minister for the Environment John Gormley, said yesterday he wants changes in the ways political parties are funded.

But he said proposals for changes in political donations were a matter for the proposed electoral commission.

Asked about the Fianna Fáil tent at the Galway races and donations to that party, Mr Gormley said it must be kept in mind that Fine Gael receives corporate donations and the Labour Party gets money from unions. "So all the issues need to be looked at."

Mr Gormley said he did not accept that going into government with Fianna Fáil was going to damage the Green Party and said it was not in conflict with the view the Greens held about Fianna Fáil in the past.

"I sat yesterday [ Tuesday] at a table in Armagh where I looked across and saw big Ian Paisley joking with Martin McGuinness. There was a real rapport there. I never thought I would see that. They were prepared to sit down. Obviously we have major differences with Fianna Fáil but it doesn't say we can't do business."

He said the decision to go into government with Fianna Fáil was not an easy one and the Greens had to put aside prejudices.

Climate change was one of the biggest issues facing the Government and what the Greens did was in "the best interests of the planet". Other priorities for him in Government would be stronger heritage laws and giving more power to the EPA so it could enforce environmental legislation.

He rejected concerns that as a Minister he would not be up to the job of leading the party and said he contested the leadership in the full knowledge it was going to be a difficult and challenging task.

"But I think I am up to that task. It's funny the question is never asked of other ministers who are leaders. No one asked Bertie Ahern or Mary Harney."

The Minister said he planned to engage with the party membership around the country to "give them ownership of this project", starting this week with visits to Louth and Donegal.

On climate change, he said there were 10 years to sort out the problem and the threat had still not impinged on people's consciousness "but it certainly has in the Green Party".

Mr Gormley said he knew the Green Party was going to get a kicking at times "but we don't have the luxury of sitting on the Opposition benches doing nothing. We could be ahead of the posse.

"We are not a catch-all party and I don't think we ever will be but I am hopeful as people become more aware about dangers of climate change that people will understand why it was so important for us to go into government. We couldn't stay out of government."