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Search words: tara

Greens Show Their True Colours

category national | environment | opinion/analysis author Monday July 09, 2007 00:44author by Chekov Feeney - WSM Report this post to the editors

For the first time in their history, the Irish Green party is in government. The deal that they struck with Fianna Fail has been criticised in many quarters as a “sell-out” – and with some justification, since the Greens have changed sides on the issue of Shannon airport’s use by the US military, the conflict between Shell and the residents of Rossport and the decision to route the M3 motorway through the lucratively re-zoned lands of Fianna Fail supporters, who happen to live near tara. On these, and other issues, the Greens switched, overnight, from a position of opposition, to jobs in a government that is implementing them - with force when necessary.
greens.jpg

For the first time in their history, the Irish Green party is in government. The deal that they struck with Fianna Fail has been criticised in many quarters as a “sell-out” – and with some justification, since the Greens have changed sides on the issue of Shannon airport’s use by the US military, the conflict between Shell and the residents of Rossport and the decision to route the M3 motorway through the lucratively re-zoned lands of Fianna Fail supporters, who happen to live near tara. On these, and other issues, the Greens switched, overnight, from a position of opposition, to jobs in a government that is implementing them - with force when necessary.

But, it can’t be ignored that many of the cries of sell-out are coming from members of Fine Gael and Labour, whose politics are virtually indistinguishable from those of Fianna Fail – parties who would be praising the Greens for their “maturity” if they had agreed the same deal with them. The Green decision also wasn’t a case of an undemocratic leadership being dazzled by the power and prestige of government and doing a deal to get themselves ministries and Mercs against the wishes of their members - the deal was endorsed by 86% of their voting membership.

In reality, rather than being a sell-out, the Green entry into government, where they will inevitably be used as a green “mud-guard” by Fianna Fail, is quite consistent with the party’s politics. Although the media never tires of mocking the wacky left-wing environmentalism and campaigning zeal of the Greens, that is simply a stereotype which long ago ceased to be remotely accurate. Although the Greens started in the environmental and pacifist protest movements of the 1970’s, their politics steadily drifted towards working within the system. This meant accepting the broad outlines of our social, political and economic system and limiting their ambitions to achieving reforms that could be accommodated without major changes.

The Greens have had to drop huge areas of their policy which would have been deemed “business unfriendly”. Now, with a couple of ministries and coalition partners who will immediately veto any proposals which harm ‘competitivity’, they will be limited to imposing environmentally-linked consumer taxes and offering subsidies for eco-friendly home-upgrades, that are realistically available only to the affluent. This sort of consumer environmentalism is entirely acceptable to both capitalism and the parties of the right.

The trouble is that capitalism depends on a profit-driven economy. It’s always more expensive to produce things in an environmentally friendly manner. It is a system that is based upon inequality – most people don’t have enough time or money to make meaningful consumer choices. Such solutions are bound to fail but the obvious solution of applying environmental regulation and taxation to production is political suicide in a capitalist ‘democracy’. By adapting to the logic of the system, the Greens have become fully integrated into it.

Related Link: http://wsm.ie/environment
author by Guypublication date Mon Jul 09, 2007 09:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You forgot: They had opposed the co-location to private hospitals on public hospital land and corporate payments to political parties. They had also opposed shorter sittings of the Dail and the Taoiseach having Thursday off, all of which they have also turned their backs on with inventive excuses.

author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Mon Jul 09, 2007 09:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors


The u-turn on the co-location of hospitals places the Greens firmly on the far right for the simple reason that this policy copperfastens the two tier, two queue system that discriminates against those that have little money. It creates a health system that heavily favours the wealthy and normalises segregation. In truth, the Greens ought to either join FF or the PD's and give back the "green agenda" to those that really care about the issues. At the heart of the green agenda must reside justice. There is no justice in a society that is segregated and regards people with money as more deserving.

author by ISNpublication date Mon Jul 09, 2007 09:54author email Irishsocialistnetwork at dublin dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

ARTICLE BY FINTAN LANE IN THE NEW I.S.N. PAPER 'RESISTANCE' (JULY/AUGUST edition)

The Greens in Government

Saving the Planet? The Left and the Environment

By Fintan Lane (ISN)

This planet is too important to be left to the Greens.

If anybody was in any doubt about this, it became very clear in June as the Green Party binned many key policies, opted for mercs and perks and entered government with the right-wing, neo-liberal Fianna Fáil and PD parties. Beaming broadly, John Gormley and Eamon Ryan toddled off to the Park to be anointed as fully fledged members of ‘Team Bertie’.

From here on, collective cabinet responsibility kicks in. The Greens will be obliged to defend every nasty policy implemented by the current government, from ‘co-location’ in the health sector to the building of a motorway through Tara to support for Shell in Mayo. They will remain bit-players, with little influence, but they will defend this right-wing government to the hilt.

In addition, they will be co-equally responsible for the presence of the US military at Shannon airport, a complete u-turn for a party that was once viewed as an intrinsic – albeit moderate and weak-kneed – element of the anti-war movement. As US troops in their tens of thousands trundle through Shannon airport on their way to kill people in the Middle East, it can said, without hesitation, that the Green Party has blood on its hands. It is complicit in Bush’s imperial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and provides his war machine with practical assistance.

The Greens, of course, will tell us that they have bigger fish to fry – they have to save the planet…and it seems that Iraq and the people of Finglas and Knocknaheeny are not an especially significant part of this planet. They can continue to die in the here and now at the end of a US bullet or on a public health waiting list.

This is not to say that the issues of climate change and the local environment are unimportant. Quite the contrary. These are crucial issues that must be addressed by anybody seeking a better world. The environmental movement has done much in the past few decades to alert people to the importance of a wide range of tasks that currently confront humanity. We cannot continue to live as we do and we must tackle the issue of global warming if we are to avoid well-signposted catastrophes.

However, the Green Party, as a political expression of the environmental movement, is fatally flawed, believing as it does that it can ‘save the planet’ by making deals with devil – with the social conservatives, neo-liberals and capitalists who believe that the market rules and that big business must always come first. In truth, it is the so-called ‘free market’ and its promoters who are primarily responsible for the environmental degradation of this planet, and it is the poor and the working people who suffer most from its effects.

The radical left has failed in the past to make environmental concerns a central element in its politics. That must change. A better, collective and egalitarian social world necessitates a sustainable way of living on this small planet of ours. The ‘anti-globalisation’ movements are imperfect, but they do hint at ways in which the desires for social justice and environmental sustainability can be meshed in non-hierarchical political formations.

For activists on the radical left, mass-based campaigns to protect the environment, particularly from plundering profit-driven corporations such as Shell and Esso, are as necessary as ‘traditional’ class conflicts in the fight to construct a better life for everybody. They are part of the same struggle. Ultimately, we need another socio-economic world, another way of doing things, not a Green-tinged government that supports business as usual.

The Green Party, largely middle class in composition and mentalité, is clearly unable to see this organic connection with working-class concerns and has become an ineffectual prop in a neo-liberal government. It is now just another establishment party.

Related Link: http://www.irishsocialist.net
author by ex-greenpublication date Mon Jul 09, 2007 10:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Greens were always a hierarchical party and the machine they operate would confirm that, it is
surprising that ISN and other radical socialist parties are only now copping on to this issue and also
that non-hierarchical eco and direct action groups have been operating in this country for at least a decade.
There is quite an established network of them, however, in the main they have been distrusted or co-opted
by the radical left and the arguments have been all over the newswire. This includes the accusations that
people like RBB and SWP have created PBP to co-opt environmental activists. Co-option does not work
and non-hierarchical formations do. The left have to realise that in order to realise the importance of environmentalism
and eco in the political movements of this country that the urban basis of many politcal
left movements is off-putting, that the largely male leadership of the political left is off-putting and the
theoretical based socialism does not work.Many eco campaigns are directed and operated by women
community members and that this is not translating into organsiational structures because the thrust
and basis of the left is confined to a few people who do not communicate their ideology but seek instead
to absorb issues and use them for political gain. For example PBP went for the Dail, when it is blatantly
obvious that local/community organisation- targetting the 2009 council elections is More important, therby
representing the people at local level and forcing change for people by using the local organisation
structures available to ameliorate living conditions and standards. A shift in emphasis is necessary at
organisational level if the radical left wish to change lives. refusing co-option and using the
talents of people who know how to organise is necessary, opening out political structures to
community leaders and listening to their voices is necessary, addressing gender imbalances in
existent structures is necessary. the left no more reflects the demographic than the right. It is
perceived as suspect because essentially there is a refusal to reflect pertinent issues within
the organisational structures. Again, The nurses have led but we see no nurses in leadership
positions on the left, we see no choice activists leading on the left, issues are hived off and talented
is co-opted. Encouraging diversity of age, sex, race in leadership is required. it is not happening.
Why?
Co-option of issues is not how to organise, grass-root activism needs recognition and supports
this is the failure of the Left and this is how the main political parties win- no viable alternative.

author by isn'erpublication date Mon Jul 09, 2007 10:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"it is surprising that ISN and other radical socialist parties are only now copping on to this issue "

The ISN is a relatively new political group but it has always seen environmental issues as very important. The 'admission' made in the article that the radical left, in the main, hasn't seen the environment as a 'crucial' issue is just stating a fact. That, however, has been changing over the past while (esp since the rise of the global justice movement) - and libertarian groups, such as the ISN and WSM, have always been tuned in with a class analysis of green issues, right back to the 60s. The orthodox communists and stalinists, on d'other hand, have an appalling track record - the Workers Party, for example, were once big supporters of the chemical industry in Cork harbour and, if memory serves, weren't averse to nuclear power either.

Grassroots activism IS where thing are at. This has always been the ISN position. Mass movements - collective struggle - are what causes change not parliamentary elites.

author by isn'erpublication date Mon Jul 09, 2007 10:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Btw, you are barking up the wrong tree if you think the splurge of critical analysis of the Green Party coming from the ISN and WSM indicates a new-found awareness of the problems with that party. The reason for these critical articles now is obviously because the Greens have just recently, blatently, completely "sold out" exactly as left libertarians expected them to do. Such events beg reportage and commentary.

author by cckpublication date Mon Jul 09, 2007 11:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If the green t.ds. fail to represent the Green agenda in a significant way, and soon, then it will be
time for a 'New Departure' to reclaim the policies and ideals of the Green movement.

It is time for Gormley, Ryan and Sargent (God help us) to tell us exactly
what they will achieve in this government..............................

or at least what they intend to achieve.....................

or at least what they hope to achieve.....................

or at least what they want to achieve.....................???

We cannot wait on self-serving incompetents.

author by ex Greenpublication date Mon Jul 09, 2007 11:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It was expected that the Greens would sell out- what is important is that any alternative offered
does not make the same mistakes???
This means that the issues eschewed and chewed up by the Greens and the other political parties
are reflected in the demographic and organisational structures of the Left. I claim that groups like
PBP have used relentless absorbtion in order to drive a failed Dail campaign and want to know
what WSM and iSN offer as alternative. Do group structures reflect the issues and demographic of
the people on;-
1. Health care.
2. Reproductive Rights.
3. Information on legislations.
4. Gender balanced committee structure.

How issues effect communities is important and how the Left translate and direct campaign is
imperative. A willingness to support issues that mainstream parties ignore and to open out
structures to reflect mass movement is necessary. Labour failed in opposition because they
moved to the centre, a strong opposition to capitalism requires a balanced, non-urban based
political movement rooted in parity of access and esteem to community and eco groups. This
requires hard work and a willingness to adapt and change out moded structures which merely
reflect the main parties. The questions are not an attack on isn but a desire to see a political
movement based in equality and not absorbtion and force such as been evident in the
last ten years in SWP/PBP etc. Community activism was thrust into a Dail campaign which seemed
to betray the issues like Rossport etc. Anyway shall read the site-

author by DennisLpublication date Wed Jul 11, 2007 10:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well now that the Greens are in government surely they are expected to give way on some issues, just as FF are expected to let the Greens have their own way in some regards.

author by Mike Novackpublication date Wed Jul 11, 2007 12:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"The Green Party, largely middle class in composition and mentalité, is clearly unable to see this organic connection with working-class concerns and has become an ineffectual prop in a neo-liberal government. It is now just another establishment party."

And you came so close. Even to the point of saying that the left parties had to incorporate environmental concerns. That is, if the left parties wanted to attract people whose concerns were environmental.

LOOK -- the real problem here is that (for the most part) the various left parties AREN'T concenred about the environment. They are concerned with economic class war, not the war of all of society against the environment. Even here, where this commentor points out that corporations could be associated with environmantal destruction (by the left) you can see that the underlying focus is "anti-capitalist" as opposed to the root of the (environmental) problem.

Unable to see? WHY (other than quasi-religious faith) do you believe that there IS an organic connection to "working class concerns". There is nothing wrong with trying to organize a party that is concerned with BOTH "social justice" and "environmental" matters.

Understand? The (pure) "environmentals" are neither left nor right. If you want them allied with you rather than your enemies you have to give them some reason to favor your side in YOUR fight (not theirs). The usual way is that you back some of their issues in exchange for their backing some of yours. Whether thier issues have ANYTHING to do with your "class struggle war" is irrelevant. As long as you take the attitude "anybody who isn't with us is against us" you end up with few allies and many enemies.

author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Wed Jul 11, 2007 17:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

DennisL suggests,
"just as FF are expected to let the Greens have their own way in some regards."

Like what exactly?

author by Megpublication date Wed Jul 11, 2007 18:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The problem here is inexperience. Its a very rare occurrance for a senior Ministerial role to be given to as inexperienced a regulator as John Gormley. Department of Environment officials are calling the shots and he doesnt yet have the confidence to overturn their comfort zone position.

It is quite mad for him to think that the Minister for Env doesn't have the authority to halt works construction works or initiate an inquiry on matters related to a capital project being financed by the department / state. In most environmental legislation it is in fact the Minister who holds most of the power.

There is a need for the Greens to appoint high calibre professional technical advisors and steer clear of filling such positions with green party members many of which simply do not have the skills that are needed to properly interpret the situations in hand.

author by starkadderpublication date Wed Jul 11, 2007 23:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"There is nothing wrong with trying to organize a party that is concerned with BOTH "social justice" and "environmental" matters."
Exactly. People like Thoreau, William Morris, Richard Jefferies, Edward Carpenter and Kropotkin all linked "social Justice" and "environmental" issues a hundred years ago. Barry Commoner, Carolyn Merchant, the late Murray Bookchin and Derek Wall continued this tradition.
But by entering government with FF & the PDs, the Greens are unlike to deliver either.

author by Reality - Green Party Memberpublication date Sat Mar 29, 2008 01:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

While Mike Novaks comments are astute and to the point, Fintan Lane's accounts of 'Green Party Politics seem disingenuous to the extreme. The greatest threat to humanity is 'Global Warming' or so we are told by many renowned scientists and environmentalists who insist that without 'Planet Earth' all life will cease to exist. Knowing this, everything else fades into obscurity.

Many Green Party members have opposed the war in Iraq and still do, likewise many are horrified at the state of our health service.

Quotes such as " The Greens were always a hierarchal party"and ' The Green Party, largely middle class and mentalite is clearly unable to see this organic connection with working class concerns' show that he is clearly taking a one sided view on the whole situation.

This is not about an elitist class war, whether you are working class or middle class is irrelevant. the general concensus is that in order to change a system you have to implement legislation bit by bit slowly in order to erode and make an impact. changes unfortunately don't happen over night, this is part of the political game, ie making gradual progress,makes more sense.The Green Party has the capacity to do this and given more time will live up to its promises. its better to try to work with the system than to be always vehemently opposed to it.

To criticise John Gormleys advisors is futile, unless you yourself have held a similar role. I for one would never assume that I would have the technical expertise to comment on their decisions. However this is not to say that you can't have your say as an ordinary citizen of this country.

Related Link: http://www.greenparty.ie
author by ringsendpublication date Sat Mar 29, 2008 01:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If you believe that "The greatest threat to humanity is 'Global Warming' " (which the scientists tell us is brought about by CO2 emissions caused by burning carbon-based material) then how does it make sense to implement plans for motorways, coal and gas burning power stations, a huge natural gas refinery, and an incinerator?

It doesn't does it?

And yet, Green Party Ministers are involved in backing all of these.

Either they don't really believe in climate change, or they are very, very stupid...

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