Green Party Seanad candidate Saoirse McHugh has said entering government with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil could “undermine and demoralise” the Irish people’s appetite for climate action.
Members of all three parties are continuing to vote of the programme for government with results expected on Friday.
On The Hard Shoulder this evening, election candidate Saoirse McHugh said a lot of the things being touted as wins for the Green Party in the programme for government have been “a bit overegged in the media.”
She said the plan does not offer enough on housing and health – and labelled the Agriculture strategy “abysmal.”
“I think a lot of people voted for the Greens to vote for a green, just, programme for government,” she said. “Not to vote for a Fine Gael and Fianna Fail government again.
“There is only so much you can accept before, all of a sudden, you are not what people voted for.”
Ms McHugh said fighting for climate justice does not involve “a situation where we have to decide what sectors of society to leave behind.”
“All that will do, I believe, is undermine and demoralise the appetite for climate action going forward,” she said.
“Climate action is not one or two or ten policies and it is not something you can do in five years.
“It will be how we live our lives and how our society is arranged going forwards and if it is not viscerally improving people’s lives, we will not get the support we need.”
I’m 30 years old today
— Saoirse McHugh (@saoirse_mchugh) June 23, 2020
The 30-year-old said urgent climate action will only be possible with the support of the vast majority of the public.
“We need everybody on board and, to do so, we can’t say to people, ‘OK well you are homeless or your housing is insecure but that is fine because we have cycle lanes,” she said.
“We can’t say to nurses, ‘oh you are too anxious to go to work every night because there are only two of you on a ward with forty people for 12 hours, but that’s fine because we have a tiny bit of climate action here.
“I think what the last 30 years of climate action has shown us is that we will need support from every single house in the country and every house will have to realise and be shown that climate action is good for them.”
She said the current programme for government would do more harm to the national interest than a unity government or a different coalition involving different parties.
“What I would personally like to see is either a unity government or a Greens, Sinn Fein, Soc Dems, Fianna fail government,” she said. “They would be my preferred options.”
“I do think there is a lot of pressure being put on the Greens but I can’t imagine the Fianna Fáil membership will accept this either and I don’t think that just because it was dragged out for so long that anyone has to accept it.
“Framing it as if it would be good for the national interest to continue on the way we have been going for five, ten years now is just wrong.
“People have been waiting for five years for something different and I think people would be happy to wait another month if that was what it took.”
You can listen back to the full interview here: