Environmentalism not just concern of Green Party, says Green Party
Green Party think-in takes place in Blanchardstown head of Dáil return
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Environmentalism and responding to climate change cannot remain the sole responsibility of the Green Party and must become an integral part of all governmental programmes, the party’s Eamon Ryan has said.
Speaking at the second day of the Green Party’s think-in in Blanchardstown, Dublin ahead of the return of the Dáil, Mr Ryan urged all political parties to ensure the Taoiseach stands by his commitments to reduce Ireland’s greenhouse-gas emissions and pursue more environmentally-aware policies.
“We can’t just own it. Environmentalism can’t just be a niche subset, it’s got to belong to everyone. We’d be more ambitious and we’d be kind of ahead of the game but we’ll work with all parties to try and make sure Ireland does go green — with Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, AAA, PBP, everyone.
The focus of the weekend think-in is to examine the growth of the party through grassroots organisations and community development, said Mr Ryan.
“You don’t get community by politics of division which is what Trump and Brexit are about. As bad as things are here, we haven’t gone down the divisive road… you won’t coherently develop a new economy and a clean economy if you go down the division route.”
Mr Ryan expressed confidence that farmers at this week’s National Ploughing Championships would respond positively to his arguments for building a more environmentally friend agricultural industry.
“Teagasc are working with Glanbia in Kilkenny, Carlow and Waterford with some of our best dairy farmers and what they’re finding is that by using a wider mix of grass, by being intelligent about how you cut it and by really monitoring nutrients and water you actually get more profitable farms. That realisation is starting to come in the farming community.”
Green Party TD Catherine Martin said an awareness among younger generations around climate change had played a vital role in the growth of the party in recent years.
“It was a tough time for us for the last six years but I feel we’ve gone through a Renaissance. Getting into national parliament was the first part of it but now it’s got even better. It’s the growth and enthusiasm that has come from that. The younger generation have grown up caring for the environment, they know that being green is important.
“Finally the message is getting through that caring for the environment is not just a separate box of tricks that you pull out when it’s suits society. It’s there all the time.”
“President Trump helps us as well because every time he says something against caring for the environment or taking action against climate change we get a surge in membership so it is resonating with people,” she said.
Green Party senator Grace O’Sullivan said the party was focusing on building relationships with communities across Ireland and building the trust of people outside Irish cities.
“We are an all-Ireland Party,” she said. “Maybe we are seen sometimes as Dublin centric because of the number of councillors we have and our two TDs are Dublin based. But we are much more than that. Our messaging is applicable to every person in Ireland. We have an Irish message, we have a European message, we have a global message.
“There was the devastation in Donegal this year and in other years we’ve seen the devastation like flooding in Waterford city. We’re seeing all the indicators which tells us as a species that the parameters of the weather patterns are changing. We have to recognise climate change is affecting the lives of people across our country now.”