Manifesto launch: The people must write their own new constitution – Gormley

Ireland can become oil free in less than two decades

“Voters across the country are demanding fundamental change – but delivering that change will require honesty and ambition,” Green Party leader John Gormley said today.

Launching his party’s election manifesto – Renewing Ireland – Deputy Gormley said the Green Party plans a new constitution for a vastly different Ireland, to replace Eamon de Valera’s document framed in the 1930s. “Under our plans that new constitution will be written by the people themselves through a directly-elected people’s assembly tasked with that job,” he said.

The Green Party leader said Irish people needed a renewed economy to restore prosperity and independence; renewed systems of governance to ensure fair and efficient banks; and renewed political structures to serve the modern Ireland.

“The Green Party was the only party which had planned for an economy with jobs not dependent on the boom-bust property bubble,” he said. “Over the last three and a half years some 20,000 green economy jobs – in home insulation, in energy generation and in information technology – have been created and there are now advanced plans to create 100,000 similar jobs over the coming decade.

The leader of the Greens said his party’s work in government in fostering wind and wave power must continue. Ireland has the potential to free itself from dependence on increasingly scarce and expensive imported oil by 2030, he said.

“We are also the only party committed to delivering a pragmatic strategy to deal with the effects of climate change. We are also the only party committed to long-term investment in projects like Metro North and the Dart Interconnector in the greater Dublin area.”

The Green Party leader added that work on restructuring and reforming banks must also continue.

“A new constitution offers an opportunity to drive real reform far more than slogans about change,” he said. In a more immediate and practical way, the Green Party plans to reduce Dáil numbers to 120 TDs, from the current 166. Half of these would be elected through a list system to ensure a more representative parliament, including more women members and TDs with specific expertise.

The party was also proposing a new system of regional and local government. “Power must be given back to people as close to their home community as possible. People must be empowered to plan for their own surroundings,” he said.

The Green Party is committed to making Ireland a fairer place – which will also help make Ireland a more prosperous country. “We are extremely proud of enacting civil partnerships but we are committed to full marriage rights for same sex couples,” he said.

Other planned measures to promote greater equality in society included: more changes to welfare to help people work; and a micro tax (usually called a Tobin tax) on financial transactions, which could fund social projects.

“Talking about ‘change’ will not end nod-and-wink deals between councillors and property developers. Talk about ‘change’ will not stop building apartment blocks on flood plains. Talk about change will not deliver reformed political institutions.

“The Green Party has a proven track record of delivery, and our manifesto for the next five years is full of vital, progressive ideas about renewing our nation, which we are proud to put in front of the Irish people,” Deputy Gormley concluded.