Green Party leader John Gormley said tonight it was his party’s “fervent hope” that all the tribunals of inquiry will “root out forensically every last morsel of corruption from Irish political life”.
Addressing party members in Dundalk at the annual conference, Mr Gormley said the Greens’ position on standards in public life had not changed “one iota” since it entered Government last year.
“The Green Party has consistently expressed full confidence in the Mahon tribunal and expressed the hope that it will reach its conclusions quickly. And it is our fervent hope that all of the tribunals of inquiry will root out forensically every last morsel of corruption from Irish political life,” he said.
In a wide-ranging address, covering issues such as achievements in government, climate change and the crisis in Tibet, Mr Gormley said the Green Party was “a party with a purpose”.
“Unlike other parties, the Green Party has taken a principled position, perhaps to our own disadvantage, to refuse donations from big business,” he said.
“We have always said that we would look after our political morality. It has been said that when we were faced with the choice between looking after other parties' ethics and saving the planet, we took the easier option and decided to save the planet. And, rightly so – and we make no apologies.”
“It is our dedication to human rights, social justice and ecological sustainability which has motivated this party since its foundation. It is this dedication which has also motivated our insistence on high standards in public life.”
Mr Gormley told 600 delegates in Dundalk, Co Louth that the Green Party “understands the nature of political power, its opportunities and its limitations”.
“We knew, and recognised honestly, that we could never get everything we hoped for in government, but equally we knew that outside of government we could achieve nothing,” he said.
Mr Gormley said that when the Greens made “that momentous decision” to enter government, its primary motivation was to tackle “the defining issue of our age”, climate change.
He said it was vital that climate change now forms part of the social partnership discussions.
Mr Gormley noted the establishment of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Change and said the chair had been given to a member of the Opposition, Sean Barrett of Fine Gael.
“We appointed members of other opposition parties to key positions on State boards dealing with this issue because, frankly, these individuals were the best people for the job and because climate change is far too important to play politics with.
“This evening I appeal to members of the Opposition to reciprocate that generosity, put away the petty squabbling and the cheap shots, forget the negative nonsense, and come on board and work with us in the best interest of this country and our planet. Let us all agree on the targets and measures required to tackle climate change.”
Stating that climate change was the “biggest issue facing humanity”, the Green Party leader cited his carbon budget, a 43 per cent increase in funding for
the Environmental Protection Agency and changes to the car tax regime among the party’s achievements in government so far. He also noted plans to make low-energy lightbulbs compulsory from next January.
On Tibet, Mr Gormley said: “Respect for human rights must extend to all cultures and countries.
"One country which has been exploited and suppressed and suffered for far too long is Tibet. We condemn unequivocally the flagrant abuse of human rights by the Chinese government and call on the Chinese government to enter dialogue with the Dalai Lama.”
Mr Gormley also noted the death today of former president Dr Patrick Hillery.
"He was a very honourable statesman and we extend our sympathy to his family."