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  • Writer's picturePippa Hackett

Hustings Opening Address

Green Party Leadership Hustings 27/06/2024, Samual Beckett Theatre



Good evening Green Party members,


to those of you here in the Beckett Theatre in Dublin, and to those watching at home around the country.


The location of tonight’s hustings brings to mind a line from Samuel Beckett’s Endgame:

“You’re on earth, there’s no cure for that.”

It’s a fitting theme for this evening’s hustings:

 


The inescapable reality of our existence on this planet;

and the inescapable reality of the physical limits of this planet;

 

But where we differ from Beckett’s fatalism, is in our shared belief in our collective responsibility to the next generation.  

That’s what politics is about for us: passing our beautiful planet, this Green island, its cities, towns, villages, rivers, lakes and farmland to our children and grandchildren in a healthy state.

 

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Eamon’s departure after 13 years as leader marks the end of one era, and the beginning of another.  I want to thank Eamon sincerely for his work and for his faith in me over the past four years.


This leadership contest gives us, as a political party, the opportunity to reflect on who we are and who we want to be.  I want us to be unapologetically Green.

And your vote in this election is your expression of the direction you want the party to take.


One member, one vote. 


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I joined the Green Party because I believe passionately in our long term, big picture world view.

 

I believed that the Green Party’s focus on nature, community and bringing about a fairer society had the potential to make this island – north and south - a better place to live, to run a business, to raise a family and to grow old.

 

Today I believe that more than ever.


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We are no strangers as a party to making big decisions about our future direction.

 

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Both before and after the 2020 General Election, we said we would speak to any grouping that would sign up to our level of environmental ambition. 

 

Because the climate and biodiversity crises were too urgent for us to do otherwise.  Four years on, that urgency is still there.

 

Our principled pragmatism, and our openness to work across divides, allowed us to agree the Greenest Programme for Government in the history of the State – and indeed anywhere in Europe. 

 

And it has allowed us to implement environmental policy over the past four years on a scale that this country has never seen before.


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Since 2020, the Green Party in Government has brought about a solar revolution. 

 

Almost single handedly, we’ve built the best retrofitting industry in Europe - from scratch.

 

We have put the building blocks in place to make Ireland a global leader in offshore wind. 

 

And as your leader, I will make sure that the State continues to put the necessary investment in our grid, in our ports, and in our interconnectors.

 

So that we can fulfill our massive potential as a world-leading exporter of renewable energy over the years and decades ahead, and secure green jobs across this country – from Meath to Kerry.

 

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This is the first Government in living memory to reduce public transport fares AND to build new train stations outside Dublin. 

 

That is the kind of vision and delivery the Green Party can bring to Government.

 

We know from Local Link that if we build it, they will come.  It’s not everywhere yet, but where it is, people are flocking to it. 

 

As your leader, I will make sure that we keep public transport fares low, and that we keep investing in public transport infrastructure. 


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The potential to expand our rail network is massive. Much like the Dublin Metro, which will finally go ahead thanks to Eamon’s leadership, as Green Party Leader I will make the delivery of the All-Island Strategic Rail Review a fundamental priority.

 

This is about linking North and South, East and West – this is about all island connectivity. 

 

The Western Rail Corridor, a new train station in Tuam, and trains from Letterkenny to Derry.


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As the daughter of parents who met at art college in Belfast in the swinging 60s,

 

as someone whose happiest childhood memories are of holidays to County Antrim each summer,

 

and as an environmentalist who knows that biodiversity doesn’t do borders,

 

one of the most profound days I have had in politics was traveling to Armagh in April with Eamon, Catherine, Roderic and the rest of the Cabinet for the return of the North South Ministerial Council.

 

As an all-island party, we know that working together north and south is how we can best address the shared challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, water quality, energy security, health and education.


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A new all island rail network is not just about reducing our transport emissions, it’s about balanced regional development. 

 

Proper, future-focussed planning is what we are about as a Party.

 

We have brought progressive policy to the here and now,

 

But we don’t just think in five-year cycles.  we think 10, 20, 30 years ahead – that is what makes us different, that is what makes us unique, and that is what I will continue do as your Leader.

 

That means looking at our island, and building infrastructure where it makes sense for people to go,

 

instead of focussing investment almost exclusively on where people already are.

 

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The Green Party in Government has invested massively in active travel over the past four years. Our roads need to be safe.

 

We need to keep on investing in safe cycling networks, and we need to roll out camera-based enforcement at scale.

 

That means red light cameras at junctions, average speed cameras, and cycling networks that are safe for our children 100% of the way, not 60% or 80% of the way.

 

So that we can let go of a child’s hand on the way to school.

 

In land use, under my own Ministry, we have made significant progress.  Two thirds of our landmass is agricultural land, so improvements at farm level rolled out at scale can have a profound impact on our environment.


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From less than 2% of organically farmed land in 2020, to 5% now, we are well on the way to 10% by 2030. That means hundreds of thousands of hectares of land now being farmed without chemical fertiliser or pesticides.

 

I introduced funding of €1.3 billion for a new Forestry Programme that will pay farmers to plant trees on their land in a way that works with the natural environment, rather than against it;

 

Working with Malcolm Noonan we have a National Biodiversity Action Plan,

 

A River Basin Management Plan,

 

A revamped National Parks and Wildlife Service

 

And now a Nature Restoration Law that will allow us to continue to turn the dial on biodiversity decline.


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And we’re not only having an impact in the areas for which we are best known.

 

We’ve also implemented progressive policy in equality, women’s healthcare, childcare and integration;

 

we are reforming public service broadcasting;

we’ve introduced cost rental housing;

we’re supporting heritage, culture and the arts;

and we’ve led out on Ireland’s recognition of the state of Palestine. 


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The list goes on.

 

Our world view underpins everything we do: how we care for each other, how we care for our animals, how we care for our planet.

 

We are the party of environmental protection and climate justice.

 

Climate justice is social justice, and there is no Green transition without a just transition.

 

If the Just Transition isn’t working for the people of the Midlands, then it won’t work for anyone.

 

We have to make it work.  And we will make it work.

 

We will do that by heeding our critics, by being in communities and listening to communities, and by making policy work for people and for place.

 

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I truly believe there is a real appetite among the public for Green policies. 

 

We know that from the vote we got and the seats we won in 2020.  

 

Let’s win back that vote.

 

We need a vibrant, well organised machine across the country, inside and outside the M50.

 

As Leader I will work night and day to consolidate our vote where it is strongest, and to grow our appeal where it is low.

 

We need to win as many seats as we can in the next General Election.

 

Right around the country, we need politicians to know that there is a Green voice and a Green perspective in their constituency right now that cannot be ignored.


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I understand how Government works and how it doesn’t work. 

 

For four years I have ​worked and negotiated with Taoisigh and Tánaistí, European Commissioners​,​ Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure, fighting for meaningful action and positive change.

With my background in academia and as a County Councillor and Senator, my experience as a community volunteer, a farmer, a businesswoman and a mother – as well as my track record over the past four years in Government - I believe I can represent the very best of what we are about as a party.


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There is a Green vote out there that we have to get back, and build on.

 

We have to get better at showing the benefits that come from voting Green.

 

It’s up to us to deliver policy that is relevant, easy and affordable for people and communities across the country.

 

Policy that not only meets our climate and nature restoration targets, but which is also focussed on improving people’s everyday lives.

 

I want to lead the Party I joined. 

 

I want to lead a Green Party that places the natural world at the core of everything we do.

 

That’s what I am about.

 

That’s what I believe this Party is about.

 

So let’s turn that page, move onto the next chapter.

 

I’m asking you to vote for me, Pippa Hackett, as Leader of the Green Party.

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