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Green Party activists told don’t use 'big words' when talking to rural voters

  • Senator Róisín Garvey says she learned this from working with Travellers
  • Members told people may not understand words like biodiversity so talk about flowers, cattle and sparrows


New senator Róisín Garvey

New senator Róisín Garvey

New senator Róisín Garvey

GREEN Party activists have been told not to use 'big words' when trying to appeal to rural voters as they may not understand what they mean.

Senator Róisín Garvey said party members need to "choose their words" adding that she learned this from working with Travellers.

Ms Garvey made the remarks at the party's National Convention during a debate on the "anti-Green narrative" in rural areas that sees the party struggle to win votes outside the big cities.

The Clare-based Senator said of rural voters: "we don't have to give them statistics on carbon this and climate that and use big vocabulary...

"We really have to choose our words I suppose I learned this from working with Travellers for a few years.

"If you start engaging with people and you're using - even the word sustainable or biodiversity - this is vocabulary that's new stuff and we shouldn't assume that people understand what they are.

"Let's talk about the flowers, talk about the cattle. Talk about the robin, the sparrow…

"I think colloquialism is important and I think simple vocabulary includes everybody.

"It's not your job to show off that you know cool terms when you’re canvassing. It's to show that you can relate to everybody," she said.

Ms Garvey also advised party members to: "Wear the Clare jersey, go to the hurling matches, get to know your local priest."

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Earlier former Sligo-Leitrim election candidate Bláithín Gallagher spoke of the difficulty of winning Green votes in rural areas.

She said she came up against "huge opposition" during her campaign and was heckled from the floor of hustings.

"The negativity the party attracted amongst primarily rural population was incredible with false stories and myths being perpetuated," she said.

Ms Gallagher said she could understand the perception that the Greens are an urban centred party.

She said just four of it's 12 TDs are from outside Dublin and they represent urban areas.

Ms Gallagher said the Green Party has "so much work to do" to win seats in rural areas.

She said: "We need to reclaim the narrative and show how voting Green is good for all of us across the island."

Ms Garvey said there is "a big enthusiasm" in rural areas "for doing the right thing and doing the good things for us and the planet."

She said that during the election just two people out of the 1,000 houses she canvassed "gave me grief".

Meanwhile, Ms Garvey said people are "freaking out" about Carbon Tax but farmers need to be told it's "not this big evil tax that’s going to crush you forever."

Carbon Tax is set to increased again in the Budget with the proceeds to be set aside to protect people at risk of fuel poverty and for projects like retrofitting homes for energy efficiency.

Ms Garvey said she's optimistic about living in rural Ireland when she considers the measures to be funded by the ring-fenced receipts from "this carbon tax that everybody's freaking out over."

She listed paying farmers for biodiversity, native woodland and carbon sequestering and looking at increasing fuel allowance to help vulnerable people to heat their homes.

She blamed the media for the myth that the Green Party doesn't care about rural Ireland.

Ms Garvey said farmers care about climate change and "We’re all on the same side here" and an important message for the Green Party is to outline what the proceeds will be used for in rural Ireland.

She said: "A lot of good is going to come out of that".

Ms Garvey added: "It’s not this big evil tax that’s going to crush you forever more... We’re looking at retrofitting houses and reducing the cost of heating your home.

"So if you have to spend two and a half cent a litre more when you’re driving your car – it’s not the end of the world."

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