Saturday 24 January 2009

Gormley keeps the pressure on local politicians

Expense accounts and allowances for all politicians must radically reformed, Green Party leader John Gormley said today. The Environment Minister claimed politicians had to lead by example in the effort to address the country’s worsening public finances.

His call for an end of ‘unvouched expenses’ for TDs and Senators — when payments are made without a receipt or proof of record — came as government attempts to get the social partners to agree to two billion euro of cutbacks.

“The political class has to lead by example,” said Mr Gormley. “We’ve always said that the Oireachtas has to get its act together. I think people wouldn’t look on us kindly and we would not have credibility if we did not lead by example and if we did not make those adjustments.”

In an address to candidates for the local and European elections, Mr Gormley said a new Green Deal could create thousands of new jobs through innovation and the use of green technology.

He also promised that by the time of the forthcoming elections, candidates would have “the most radical piece of planning legislation” in their hands which he claimed would overhaul the system and end corrupt zoning.

Mr Gormley, who was in Drogheda to meet election hopefuls, also defended the role of the party in government despite some of its most high profile councillors leaving its ranks.

Cork city’s Chris O’Leary and Dublin city’s Bronwen Maher both resigned this week and criticised the leadership and direction the party was taking in recent days.

A third councillor, Neil Clarke from Donegal, who also quit, claimed more resignations would follow over a growing split between the leadership and grassroots. Mr Gormley said comments made by the former party members were hurtful because they were untrue.

“This party is a dynamic party, it is a committed party, a party that is interested in change, and a party that is getting real change in government,” he continued.

“We will continue, we will work hard in government, we will work hard to ensure our agenda is implemented, and beyond that we will ensure that we will provide the stability and leadership that is required in government because of the very severe economic downturn.”

Mr Gormley maintained the mood remained buoyant among delegates. “But we are also very realistic,” he added. “We know the challenges that we face.

“In government it can be tough, particularly during an economic downturn as we
are now experiencing, but we know the way forward. We know the way forward is the Green Deal and it is something that we will be exploring at our party convention.

“We know that people are concerned and are frightened but they want solutions, they want real leadership and that’s what the Green party is going to offer.”

Irish Times

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