Green Party launch local elections manifesto

Local referendums among measures announced as party targets a dozen seats

 Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has condemned an alleged racist incident against Green Party local election candidate in Monaghan, Grazvydas Vaitekunas. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has condemned an alleged racist incident against Green Party local election candidate in Monaghan, Grazvydas Vaitekunas. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Local referendums should be provided for major transport infrastructure and redevelopments, the Green Party has suggested.

Launching their local elections manifesto yesterday, the Greens also maintain that locals should have a direct say in how a portion of the council budget is spent.

The Greens are seeking to recover from their wipeout at the 2011 general election when they lost all their TDs and senators. They now only have three elected representatives on councils, Cllr Mark Dearey in Louth, Cllr Marianne Butler in Louth and Cllr Malcolm Noonan in Kilkenny.

They have targeted between 12 and 15 seats in the local elections and have an outside chance of winning a seat in the European elections in Dublin, where party leader and former government minister Eamon Ryan is a candidate.

Green Party chair Roderic O’Gorman, who is standing as a local election candidate for Fingal County Council and also in the Dublin West byelection, said the initiative could work if adequate safeguards and transparency are put in place.

He said individual referendums could be “indicative” and give policy-makers some idea of what local people thought, or they could be binding.

He stressed referendums would only pertain to issues within the remit of a local authority such as local area or development plans.

The Green Party says will it advocate for a radical change in members’ allowances, ending the “conference culture” within local government in favour of mandatory accredited training for all elected representatives in areas of competency and responsibility related to their position.

The party is also advocating for local authority councillors to have more power to hold senior executives in local authorities to account.

Another initiative in their manifesto is the prioritising of safe routes to schools.

Local renewable energy co-ops involving city and county councils should also be set up, they believe.

Mr Ryan says local authorities should have a central role in building to meet the needs of the population generally.

“Public housing need not be restricted to those on low incomes - a stock of high quality council-owned units, made available at market rates with rents subsidised for low income tenants, can help to stabilise the rental market, as well as achieving a better social mix,” he said.

Mr Ryan meanwhile condemned an alleged racist incident against Green Party local election candidate in Monaghan, Grazvydas Vaitekunas.

Mr Vaitekunas was subjected to verbal racial abuse as he was erecting campaign posters in Monaghan town on the evening of Thursday, May 8th. The incident was reported to gardaí.

Mr Ryan said: “This incident is totally unacceptable and must be dealt with. Mr Vaitekunas is standing for election on the issues of integration and bridging the gap between communities, and we fully support him in that.

“I stand with all the diverse candidates hoping to represent our communities in this election, and I fully expect that the gardaí will deal with this issue promptly and with the upmost seriousness.”

Mr Vaitekunas commented: “I’m standing in this election to give a voice to the different communities who have chosen to make their home here. Ireland has been a very welcoming place for me, and it’s a shame that a minority of people still behave in this way.

“Hopefully this election can be a breakthrough for those representing immigrant communities, seeking to improve integration and build a fairer society.”