Greens critical of some rezonings


Green Party leader John Gormley has accused some Opposition county councillors of being involved in a last ditch effort to push through irresponsible zoning proposals in parts of the country.

He said the Planning Bill currently going through the Oireachtas will put an end to the sort of unfettered and irresponsible rezonings that were a feature of political life.

Delivering the keynote address at the Green Party’s convention in Waterford  last night Mr Gormley said those type of rezonings must now come to an end.

“Let me be very blunt on this point. There are councillors up and down this country who know that the new Planning Bill currently going through the Houses of the Oireachtas will mean that the sort of unfettered and irresponsible rezonings that took place previously, must now come to an end. And they are trying in a last ditch effort to get through their irresponsible zoning proposals.

He said Labour Party councillors had, for the most part, behaved responsibly but the same was not true of Fine Gael councillors.

“Fine Gael is still receiving contributions from the developers, still rezoning, and still has not woken up to the new reality. They still believe that this sort of mad over-zoning stimulates the economy. Well, it doesn't. It is disgraceful and it is time that Enda took these guys to task and told them that enough is enough.”

Mr Gormley said that justice would be meted out to those who were guilty of causing the banking crisis.

“Last year at our conference, I said that I expected those people found guilty of white-collar criminality to be brought to justice – and this year, my friends, I say that again. We want to tackle the problem of white-collar criminality, because there cannot be one law for the rich and one law for the poor. Or, to put it another way, one law for those in authority and one law for the less powerful and weaker elements of our society.

“And that was the unequal relationship that existed between the abuser and the abused in that sordid era of our nation's history. By commissioning those ground-breaking reports, this Government has shone a light into a dark and dreadful period. And it is the view of the Green Party that we can only get closure when we get all of the answers. No institution can be above the law – and all of those people guilty of those heinous crimes against children must be brought to justice and the survivors of sexual abuse treated with compassion and respect.”

He said there were other divisions in our country which could not be ignored and must be addressed if country was to be put back on its feet.

“One such tension is the gap between the public and private sector. The Government had to take the very difficult decision to reduce public service pay. We regret the public and media discourse surrounding those decisions. Far too often, our public servants were criticised and denigrated. Our public servants, be they teachers or nurses or guards or our civil servants, are absolutely fundamental to a functioning, well-balanced society. We took those budgetary decisions because we had to. It was the right and the responsible thing to do.

“But we also want to see social partnership continue and, in my recent meeting with the unions, that was my message. Because now, for the first time ever, we have an Environmental Pillar of Social Partnership which we introduced and which will ensure a more truly sustainable economy into the future.

“I firmly hope a new model of Social Partnership can be forged, that we will have a new and more dynamic public service, where merit and hard work are rewarded, and where the pay scales are fair and proportionate, because a vibrant public sector is absolutely crucial to our economic recovery.”