Addressing the Forum, Éamon Gilmore TD told delegates that “Ireland is at a crossroads in its history. After two years of decline, the indications are that we are approaching the depths of this devastating recession”, “Between 2000 and 2008, two-thirds of investment in capital stock went into housing. Instead of investing in broadband to make us work more efficiently; or hospitals to make us healthier; or public transport to make us less dependent on fossil fuels, we built houses and sold them to each other, spurred along by generous tax incentives from a self-interested Fianna Fáil government, and a policy of institutional recklessness when it came to planning. When the value of those houses went up in a puff of smoke, our supposed wealth went with them.” See here for full transcript.
Opening the meeting in the morning Joanna Tuffy TD said: “This morning’s seminar is to promote a dialogue with Environmental NGOs about environmental issues. Environmental protection is a key plank of Labour policy and we want to build on our policy on basis of being well informed and taking on board concerns of environmental activists.
What Labour brings to Environmental policy is our core value that there should be social equality without the wide gaps in income that have been encouraged by the right. The society and economy we would promote would be sustainable and fair. There is evidence that societies such as Sweden, that have less income inequality and more social solidarity, have a much better record in relation to environmental protection than we do in Ireland. This is the kind of society that Labour would aim to build in Government”
In conslusion Bronwen Maher said that this was the start of an ongoing process of engagement with Environment NGOs, and that the Labour Party will hold a number of similar events during the year. “We wish to draw on the considerable expertise available in the NGO sector and continue to develop our policy in this area.”