The Green Party in Dublin North has been first out the blocks in Dublin with the selection of Joe O’Brien as their candidate for the next General Election. O’Brien narrowly missed out on a Council seat in local elections in May dropping out of the seated positions on the last and 18th count in the Balbriggan Ward. O’Brien works with the social support agency Crosscare and works with Irish emigrants and people with difficulties accessing the social welfare system and homeless services.
He made the following statement after his selection in Swords on Thursday:
It’s a huge honour to be selected as the Green Party General Election candidate for Dublin North. I have been engaging with Fingal County Council for some time now on behalf of the people of Dublin North and in my day job I campaign at a national level for the most disadvantaged in society. I believe that my experience and effectiveness at making change happen along with my commitment to serve the people of Dublin North in an honest and constructive way puts me in a strong position to do a good job as a TD.
Trust in politicians is at an all-time low and I believe people are largely right to be so sceptical particularly considering some of things that politicians in both government and opposition have been involved in this year alone. Politics should be a noble profession but it’s certainly not perceived as such at the moment with some justification. Politics should be attracting our best, brightest and hardest working but most importantly it needs people of integrity and honesty. Politicians are pulled in many directions and we need people who can stay honest in these contexts. I also often wish there was less spin and double talk and that we were just getting the messages in a direct and honest way without deliberate exaggeration or understatement.
The next Dáil needs people who are capable of rebuilding the public’s trust in politics and I think transparency in a key ingredient in this respect. With this in mind I again urge Fingal County Council to publish the financial, shares, directorships and property interests of all Councillors. At the moment the only way to view this information is by calling in person to County Hall and in the internet age this is not acceptable particularly when Dublin City Council can publish this information on its website.
If elected I will push for a comprehensive overhaul of the ethics framework for TDs. There are various sets of disconnected guidelines and legislation governing the behaviour of TDs and its time this was reviewed in a comprehensive way. As part of this process the standards expected of TDs need to be raised considerably. I think such an overhaul could play a key part in rebuilding public trust in politics.
I am very excited about the next General Election not just from a personal point of view but because I think we can see a fundamental change in Irish politics that has been for too long dominated by two remarkably similar populist parties. We could have the most diverse Dáil in the history of the State and that is a good thing in my view. I think though in order to get things done we will need politicians who can see value in different political views and approaches and politicians who can build agreements and constructive ways forward with people of differing voices. We now need a progressive politics that is really focussed on making the country a better place to live and that can bring people of different views together
I welcome the water protests of recent months – it shows there is energy there and signs that people are really open to realigning their beliefs and their very way of engaging with the political system. There has been a vibrancy and diversity about it that has been encouraging. I think the big challenge now is to keep this level of engagement up, keep it in a positive place and harness this renewed interest to help improve the society we live in and not wait for others to do it for us, as that will not happen.
I look forward to meeting the people of Dublin North between now and the next General Election and I vow to do my very best to represent them and to offer an honest and hopeful vision for the future.
Commenting on the selection of Mr. O’Brien former Green TD for Dublin North Trevor Sargent stated that:
‘Joe O’Brien has a record for courageously tackling powerful vested interests on behalf of the community, and helping everyone in need, especially the most marginalised. Joe, a Fingal family man, sees the big picture as a Green where thinking globally while acting locally is the only way we will all create a viable, equitable and just society for this and future generations’.