Sunday, November 25, 2007

Green Irish Greens in the Soup

Our part-time parliament, which is shuttered for about six months of the year, can resemble a theatre in the rare times that it is in session.

This is the busy season for Santa Claus and his elves in the North Pole and our messenger boy/girl politicians at least can look forward to a six-week break starting next month, barring the odd meetings of most of the do-nothing parliamentary committees. There are 23 of them in a system where there is little or no accountability and the overpaid lobby fodder can continue to top up their expense earnings by signing the attendance books.

In our 1920's era governance system, the country is 15 miles from Leinster House and an overnight allowance can be claimed whether or not our over-taxed (nothing got to do with tax!)legislators, actually stay in Dublin.

In reaction to perceived public displeasure about the Super VIP Benchmarking pay rises, Green Party Ministers Gormley and Ryan who are both getting an extra €25,656 and Trevor Sargent who will get an additional €17,716, announced that the money would be diverted to the Green Party, even though it appears that the plan is in violation of electoral law.

Given their failure to object to the pay bonanza, the belated decision to divert the funds for party use has an air of sleaziness about it.

Irish politicians of courage and conviction are a rare specie and Green politicians are as good at following the crowd as others.

Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan during the week issued a stark warning of climatic Armageddon unless there is a dramatic reduction in global emissions.

"If we ignore this challenge the threat posed is beyond any catastrophe, war, famine or natural disaster which occurred on the planet for hundreds of millions of years," he told the Dáil during a debate on climate change.

Climate change justifies the Faustian bargain for power with the acceptance of corruption and the zero prospect of reform in areas of governance and land rezoning. However, after almost six months in office, where are the radical proposals on climate change?

There are none of course and we will await what the European Commission will propose.

Green Party leader and Minister for the Environment John Gormley, in true Irish ministerial style, is due to set up a panel to advise him on the mechanical biological treatment (MBT) of waste as an alternative to incineration.

Similar to the way the promotion of biofuels was foolishly seen as a simple risk-free alternative to fossil fuels, MBT is in a similar boat. Gormley needs to get an international scientific panel to advise him and it could well say that incineration is a more practical option.

Gormley opposes incineration because his constituents oppose it. Nevertheless, the planning board approved the building of a plant on Dublin’s Poolbeg peninsula.

“Minister Gormley must be the first politician ever that found on appointment to ministerial office that he has less power than when he was an opposition TD,” Labour Party leader Eamonn Gilmore said.

Fine Gael leader said that the Greens "comment on everything and aren't able to implement anything," like the Muppet Show's Statler and Waldorf.

Green Party Senator Dan Boyle owes his position to political patronage such as the members of the hundreds of Sate quangos that he criticises.

Decisions were being made by independent bodies for political reasons because powers had been abrogated in legislation and politicians could not stand over that, Dan Boyle of the Green Party, deputy leader of the Seanad (Upper House of the Irish parliament), said in relation to an Environment Protection Agency go-ahead for the Poolbeg incinerator.

Senators had recently discussed how an ongoing process of abrogating political responsibility to stand-alone bodies was diminishing political decision-making and democratic accountability.

Dan Boyle like the worthies, do-gooders and party hacks who people all the quangos, also owes his position to political patronage. The dead-man walking Taoiseach Bertie Ahern who the Greens in May said had "lost moral authority," because of a torrent of corruption allegations, appointed Boyle to his current position as a national politician.

Santa Claus will see more glacial change than the Irish political process.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has chaired one meeting of a Cabinet sub-committee on climate change since June. Meanwhile, the Greens oppose incineration but do not appear to have a problem with the export of hazardous waste for incineration. They oppose nuclear power but we may well import UK electricity that is generated by nuclear power. Baby-steps and posturing are the responses to climate change.

It all could be termed Irish politics as usual.