Thursday 23 November 2017

'Joyless' policy wins but party failed in key goals

ine Kerr

THE Green Party is facing into a General Election without key policy achievements in the area of climate change, a ban on corporate donations or a directly-elected Dublin Lord Mayor.

At least half of its one-year old renegotiated Programme for Government with Fianna Fail has not yet been implemented.

Failure to get many of its major policy concessions across the finishing line now leaves the party open to criticism.

On its rollercoaster ride with Fianna Fail since 2007, the Green Party has stirred up major controversy on everything from banning the traditional light bulb to changing the car tax regime.

And it has been accused of being "anti-rural" because of its controversial animal welfare legislation changes and its introduction of a carbon levy which hiked up the cost of petrol, diesel and heating oil.

Fianna Fail's Mary O'Rourke claimed the Greens had overseen "joyless policies" in Government. The Greens, however, argue they have fundamentally changed the direction of Irish politics.

What they failed to implement

Billed as one of their main motivations for being in Government, the legislation still hasn't been published. The party plans on getting it published before Christmas but there is unlikely to be enough time to get it through all stages of debate.

Legislation has been debated in the Dail in a bid to have an election next year. But time is running out for getting the plan across the finishing line.

Proposals to ban corporate donations have yet to be brought before the Dail. Again, time is running out. While the expenses regime has been overhauled, it is still not fully vouched.

Promises to set up a voucher scheme to compensate people on low incomes for rising fuel costs has now been ruled out. The Greens had sought to ringfence funds from the carbon tax.

This has not been implemented. The Green Party hoped to pursue it through an Independent Electoral Commission, which has not been set up.

What they implemented

The levy was introduced in two stages this year, hiking the cost of petrol by four cents a litre and diesel by five cents. The cost of heating oil also rose by 8pc but funds were never ringfenced to help the elderly and those on social welfare.

The party led the way in Europe for banning incandescent bulbs.

Controversial changes to the car tax system were blamed by the industry for a total collapse in car sales in 2009. The change linked the level of tax to a car's carbon emissions.

The legislation was passed in July with cross-party support. It allows same-sex couples to register their civil partnership.

Technically, no system of third-level fees has been introduced but the continued hiking of the student registration fee has been branded "third-level fees by the back door".

Despite the backlash from some FF backbenchers and the vocal campaign group RISE, the Greens got the ban through before the summer.

Irish Independent

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