Seanad debates

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


2:30 pm

Photo of Frances BlackFrances Black (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I want to mark the passage of the elections last weekend and, in particular, to congratulate the Green Party on a really significant result. Of course, my fingers are crossed that my colleague, Senator Grace O'Sullivan, might take a seat in Ireland South. I am disappointed to see Lynn Boylan gone from Europe because she did a great job, particularly on climate change. I am sad to see she has not been re-elected.

We know it is a really important moment in regard to how this country is going to change over the next decade. That is what this election shows. It is a very positive sign that so many people have sent this signal. They have stated very clearly they want action on climate change and they want it to be a priority. However, we should also remember that the results this weekend are just the electoral wing of a much bigger social shift. A huge network of activists and campaigners, both inside and outside the political parties, and, indeed, inside and outside Ireland, have pushed us to this point. We see the appetite for big, meaningful, radical change to address climate change and to make our country fairer, healthier and more sustainable in the process.

The results this weekend place a massive amount of trust in politicians, and we have to live up to that. We need to be bold in our action and resist any attempts to just greenwash or have business as usual. That is not an option. Our transition to a climate-friendly country must be rooted in principles of social and economic justice. The whole movement for a just transition is based on the belief that no one can be left behind and that we cannot let the most marginalised and disadvantaged bear the brunt of these changes as they are already disproportionately bearing the brunt of climate change. We need to see this as part of the bigger move to make our country fairer and more equal. I hope the Greens lead the way on this.

The Government said it has got the message from the public and I sincerely hope this is true. In the crucial months and years to come, actions will speak louder than words. I noted this morning that the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment has granted another offshore drilling licence, which should tell its own story. I call on the Government to listen to the experts, the scientists, the public and the activists. We need to do more and we really need to do it now.


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