A healthy and protected environment is my priority as our survival depends on it. The challenges we face today are unprecedented in terms of gravity and scale. Therefore, if elected I will focus on three key priorities.

 

AGRICULTURE

For the last 20 years our agricultural economy has been in decline. On a national scale the figures say that Ireland’s agricultural sector has been booming but these figures obscure the inequality and environmental damage that has been occurring. We need an agricultural system that works for communities, farmers, and the environment.

  • We need to abandon plans for herd expansion and instigate a refocusing of agriculture to produce food for communites.
  • Farmers must be paid for biodiversity and carbon sequestration. Biodiversity on our farmland can recover but it will take cooperation.
  • The organics scheme must be reopened and expanded.
  • Supermarkets need to be regulated so restrictive contracts cannot force smaller farmers out of business. Similarly, regulations on processors need to be scaled so smaller operations are not driven out of business by costly regulation compliance.
  • The policy gap between food, production, environment, and export must be closed and the island of Ireland needs a food policy that addresses every aspect of food in a holistic manner.
  • Animal rights need to be upheld and protected.

Communities

 With political will we can revitalize our towns and villages leading to more jobs, safer areas for children to play, environmentally friendly areas to live and a restoration of the life and bustle that has all but vanished.

  • Public transport, walking, and cycling must be prioritized. Increased foot traffic in towns and villages and can lead to healthier commuters and busier town centres. Cheaper ways of travel will make participating in society more accessible to those who cannot drive for whatever reason.
  • Public health needs to be invested in to ensure that preventative health care becomes the norm and everybody has access to mental and physical care in their community when they need it. Our healthcare system needs to center patients and ensure staff are treated well. We must resist privatising our healthcare.
  • A secure home for everybody is a right. There are more than enough houses in Ireland and we have more than enough money for everybody to have a home; all that is needed is political courage. Vulture funds cannot be allowed purchase residential property loans any longer.
  • Markets and local produce needs to be supported and encouraged, giving us all access to healthy, locally produced food.
  • Sustainable energy projects need to be owned by the communities the provide for and not large, multinational companies. Hundreds of millions of Euro leave Mayo every year in electricity bills. There is no reason we cannot own our electricity.

Local economies

We’ve had Booms and Busts and all we have to show for it in Mayo are empty houses. We can create robust, reliable economies but will need to change direction.

  • We must begin to defuse our reliance on corporate tax income. As a country we consistently vote to block tighter tax regulations and so we are entirely defenseless and trapped in a race to the bottom. We need to change this over dependancy on a few companies or we will all pay a very hefty price.
  • Community banking would enable steady and secure lending and borrowing without investments in climate destroying funds. We shouldn’t be nervous that our banks will need another enormous bail-out with no consequenses, instead we should have a banking system whose first and foremost goal is the public good, not profit.
  • SMEs contribute disproportionately to communities. More money is kept circulating, there is a higher employment to profit ratio and they enrich the social life of a place. SMEs need to be supported in every way possible.
  • A local food economy would create wealth while simultaneously allowing us to protect the environment. Farmers supported by communities are able to produce low carbon, wildlife friendly food without having to cut corners to feed their own family.
  • As we restore natural areas, develop a timber economy, retrofit houses, update electricity grids, deploy renewables, and transform our agricultural system there will be thousands of opportunities for new jobs and skill. We must make sure that we are ready to create and take advantage of much of these opportunities

For Green Party policies on everything from health to rural affairs to digital regulation please click here (https://www.greenparty.ie/our-ideas/)

If you have any specific questions for me, get in touch at saoirse.mchugh@greenparty.ie