Climate Change

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90213044-1[Dan Boyle, Eamon Ryan, and Trevor Sargent during the 2011 General Election]

Forgive the Green Party?

Are you out of your tiny fracking mind?

Let the man speak.

Former Green Party senator Dan Boyle, who is running for a seat on Cork City Council, writes:

The interactions are at a lower level now and are far more informal. Engagements tend to take place more on the street or in a pub. The tone also tends to be less aggressive and is now more often than not one of mutual concern. “This Climate Change is real Dan isn’t it?” It’s no longer being said with any sense of irony.

You still come across those who hold the Greens responsible for everything that’s ever gone wrong in the country. In all probability such voters never supported The Greens so it’s not a good use of time to engage with them. I usually find that they tend to be Fine Gael supporters who seem to be enjoying their return to the summits of smugness and complacency.

These may be a different type of local elections where instead of being a referendum on national politics. Local issue for once will come to the fore. When I knock on doors I’m more likely to be asked a local waterway or walkway or park. Most of the community wants to participate in how these projects were planned. Many of us were elected first by practicing such projects, it’s a type of politics we would like to see back in practice.

However more benign it has become for Greens to talk to the public, it has to be remembered that Greens were never that popular to begin with. Even at the ‘height’ of Green success the party wasn’t winning more than 3.5% of the national vote in local elections.

Where Greens succeeded in being elected was through secondary votes, transfers, being most people’s second choice. Since a situation reversed in many voters minds. A future for the Greens can only be gained through community engagement.

Irish politics in particular, as opposed to much European politics, depends on an almost personal relationship between the voter and the candidate. Greens have traditionally not embraced this process to the extent they should have. Although those of us who were elected quickly came to realise we would never be elected unless we embraced this political fact.

The issue agenda seems to be veering towards the Greens although this is not as strait-forward as it seems either, issues like pylons and fracking tend to be located in communities where traditional Green support has tended not to exist.

These may help develop independent Green awareness that can be worked with but it’s fair to say it isn’t a large aspect of current Green Party redevelopment either, only to a slight extent.. There is an added complication of Green Party policy on pylons being deliberately misrepresented, but then that’s politics…

I’ve always enjoyed the banter gained from the doorsteps, and the political wisdom that comes from back handed compliments. There are those who in coming months who will prefer the big bang approach in helping to re-direct Irish politics, through staged media events. Knocking on doors got me to where I am it can get those who still believe that we need diverse politics in Ireland and the Green should be a part of that.

Dan Boyle

Fight!

(Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)