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  • Writer's picturePippa Hackett

Young Greens Address


My opening address, delivered to the Leadership Hustings of the Young Greens, online, Tuesday 2nd July 2024



Good evening everyone, and thanks so much for organising this special Young Greens hustings.

 

Thanks in particular to Benedetta for moderating this evening’s hustings. It’s great to have you with us.

 

Look, Roderic and I have each spoken at length at this stage about why we joined this party, why we each want to lead this party, and our respective priorities for the future direction of the party.


And ultimately, in many respects you can boil it down to the fact that we’re doing it for future generations.  We care about the planet, about nature, about a fairer society – because we believe passionately in passing each of these to the next generation in a healthy state.

 

Equally, while climate change and nature loss are of enormous concern, there are immediate issues of concern that we need to tackle as a party. Particularly for young people.

 

Housing is the number one issue for the electorate at the moment.

 

So we as the Green Party need to be at the table, putting forward progressive, evidence based, credible housing policy – policy that will address supply AND affordability.

 

The Affordable Purchase Scheme is making newly built homes available at a reduced price for buyers, and the Greens in Government are directly responsible for bringing in the Cost Rental Scheme.

 

Only last month, applications for 184 cost rental, A-rated apartments in Tallaght opened. It’s on the Red Luas Line, and the rents are set at €1,000 for a studio apartment, €1,225 for a 1-bed, and start at €1,425 for a 2-bed.  This is a game changer, and we need to do more of it.

 

On housing supply and housing affordability, yes we need to scale up what’s already there, but we need to think outside the box as well. 

 

On supply, we badly need to deploy rapid build, offsite construction, which works really well all across the EU.  And it’s something I’ve been working on in my own Ministry.

 

But we also have a glut of offices sitting empty in prime locations in our cities.  We should have people living in these locations rather than leaving them vacant.

 

The way to do this is to incentivise businesses in older office blocks to move into newer developments that are lying empty. 

 

And then retrofit and convert the older office blocks into apartments. That will make more homes available, and it’ll breathe life into our city centres.

 

On affordability, I appreciate it’s a struggle for tens of thousands of young people to afford rent, let alone think about saving for a mortgage, and that’s if you can even find somewhere to rent. 

 

But thinking slightly longer term, one idea I would push as leader is the concept of a State-facilitated mortgage deposit savings account for under 35s.

 

It’s novel, but it would work like a retirement savings plan, the same way as your pension does. Where the money you are putting away for the future comes out of your gross, pre-tax income.

 

In effect that would mean you’re saving twice as much as you would otherwise save, as you’re not paying income tax on what you’re putting away – and I think it could really make a critical difference for young people who are struggling to put together the deposit for their first house.

 

Outside of housing, an area where we’ve made massive progress in Ireland with the Greens in Government for the last four years is women’s healthcare, and only yesterday we saw the free contraception scheme extended to age 35, so it’s for 17 to 35 year olds now.  That’s as well as the hugely successful home STI testing service.

In the immediate term, with an eye on the budget, we need to keep public transport fares down and we need to keep the €1,000 drop in college fees, as well as examining how we can further rollout grant assistance through SUSI.

 

The Young Greens are and have been hugely influential in keeping the pressure on our coalition partners to take meaningful action on Gaza, and the pressure coming from the Green side of the house has ultimately led to Ireland recognising the State of Palestine, which while not changing the absolutely horrific lived experience on the ground in Gaza, was a really significant moment of leadership on the international stage. 

 

And we know how difficult it has been to get meaningful action at the EU level on Gaza, but rest assured we are pressing both in Dublin and Brussels all the time.

 

Turning to my ask of you as a group, I’ve spoken a lot since this contest started about how we need to stand up for ourselves more as a party. 

 

And I see a key role for the Young Greens in the online space in leading the charge on us standing up for ourselves as a Party.

 

We need to defend our Green wins and our Green policy, and more than that we shouldn’t be afraid to hit back at the other parties when they have a go at us. 

 

Let’s put it up to them, call them out on their misinformation, and let’s be proud to be Green.

 

 

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