Independent voices are needed more than ever

May 28, 2007 at 10:07 am | Posted in Statements | Leave a comment

Following the General Election result, which gave an increased concentration of seats to Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, independent parliamentary voices are needed more than ever. In that context, the Seanad can become more relevant and important in offering an opportunity for diverse and different perspectives to be heard. This is particularly so in the case of the university seats where graduates have the opportunity to support genuinely independent contributors. 

For example, it was a matter of regret that in the general election campaign the economic model propagated by the outgoing government did not come under more rigorous critique. It is clear that the ‘business as usual’ approach is no longer viable. The need to confront peak oil and climate change is not simply an environmental issue. It is an economic imperative. The rationale for this is outlined in many recent reports such as that of Sir Nicholas Stern in the UK. 

The move to sustainability offers the only way to sustain competitiveness, economic growth and quality of life. This is the approach being adopted by countries such as Norway and is one that Ireland should pursue. If elected to Seanad Eireann I pledge to make this argument central to my contributions. 

Finally, may I express my personal sadness at the defeat of Dr Jerry Cowley. He fell victim to an expected Fine Gael surge in Mayo. I know him to be a honourable and decent man who did his public duty at all times. 


Support for Heritage Protection Alliance of Ireland

May 23, 2007 at 3:14 pm | Posted in Statements | Leave a comment

I wish to fully support the call by the newly founded Heritage Protection Alliance of Ireland to repeal the National Monument Act 2004. 

It is a matter of great importance that the rich archaeological heritage of the country be fully protected and preserved. It is clear that the consequence of the 2004 Act is that this is not happening in an appropriate and comprehensive manner. 

The maintenance and preservation of our diverse cultural resources is a mark of a civilized society. However, these resources include not only our physical artefacts and remains but also our communities. Of particular importance are our Irish-speaking communities as these contain such an immense and important cultural wealth for all of us. All of our communities need to inhabit a humanised physical and cultural space where historical continuity and modernity exist in harmony.  

For this reason I have called for a mandatory pre-planning phase whereby developers of large infrastructural projects must engage in real dialogue and agreement with communities affected by their projects. This pre-planning stage would include identifying the cultural features – both physical and psychological – which must be preserved from possible damage. In this way development and cultural sustainability can be better reconciled.     

Support for Dr Jerry Cowley

May 18, 2007 at 11:26 am | Posted in Statements | 3 Comments

As a candidate for Seanad Eireann, I wish to publicly pledge my personal support to Dr Jerry Cowley in the forthcoming general election. 

Mayo needs, and has benefited from, a genuinely independent voice in Dail Eireann. This is essential in order to pursue local and national issues irrespective of political party or prevailing political fashion. I believe Jerry Cowley has shown courage and conviction on many issues over the last few years, particularly regarding health, social care provision and community development. On the Corrib gas question he has involved himself directly in an issue that has been contentious and difficult. The easier option would have been to have withdrawn and confined himself to banal platitudes from a distance. Instead, he has attempted to perform his representative duty and has sought to resolve the problem. 

I hope that the voters of Mayo will recognise these qualities of commitment and leadership and give their support to Jerry Cowley.     

Addressing Climate Change is the way to maintain Economic Growth

May 14, 2007 at 11:37 am | Posted in Statements | Leave a comment

It is of great concern that the critical issue of global warming has not featured prominently in the general election campaign. Given the scale of the challenge global warming presents, it is essential that Ireland charts a clear and coherent strategy now. 

Addressing this issue is not simply about attempting to avert potential disasters and crises. If it is done wisely and intelligently, developing such a strategy would help us to achieve a greatly enhanced quality of life with a renewal of our communities and health. I call for us to follow the example of countries such as Norway, which has committed itself to being carbon neutral by 2050. 

Such radical moves to sustainability not only make social and environmental sense it also makes economic sense. The transition to sustainability will generate enormous economic activity and growth leading to enhanced employment, increased wealth and well-being. With rising fossil fuel costs, ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option for societies and economies. Being strategically positioned in this regard will confer clear social and competitive advantages if we commit ourselves to overhaul our energy, transportation, housing and manufacturing systems away from a reliance on fossil fuel. 

Sustainability makes economic sense. Responsible political leadership demands that it be the central issue at the heart of our planning and political debates.  

Call on Kenny to show leadership on Corrib Gas issue

May 9, 2007 at 11:45 am | Posted in Statements | Leave a comment

Today marks the end of the EPA oral hearing into whether Shell should be granted a pollution control licence. A number of grave issues have arisen during the course of the hearing which once again underline the unsuitability of the proposed project. These include the location of the proposed gas refinery in a water catchment area and the unilateral decision taken by Shell to cold vent methane subsequent to the grant of planning permission and without community consultation.  

The limited terms of reference within which the EPA must operate means that many of the critical issues raised at the Hearing fall outside their remit. What is clearly needed is an integrated and inclusive open investigation into the best development model for the Corrib Gas project. Only this can resolve the conflict.

I have proposed with Dr Jerry Cowley the establishment of an Independent Commission to determine the optimum development model for the Corrib gas project. This would be an open-to-all, participative process which would be guided by the criteria of best technology and community consent. This proposal is supported by all the parties in opposition except Fine Gael. 

I now make a direct appeal to Enda Kenny, as a possible future Taoiseach, to finally support the Independent Commission proposal as the only viable option on the table. If he does not then he should publicly state his alternative solution so that this unnecessary conflict in Mayo can be ended. It is surely incumbent on all candidates for high office to clearly state their position on the Bellanaboy project and to exercise leadership in resolving this conflict.  

Garavan launches Seanad Campaign

May 4, 2007 at 9:00 am | Posted in Statements | Leave a comment

With the dates for the Seanad election announced yesterday, I am delighted to formally launch my campaign for Seanad Eireann in the NUI constituency. 

I believe there are many in modern Ireland disturbed and disillusioned by the failure of our major political parties to create a society of decency and standards where all citizens can live their lives with respect and dignity. To achieve this we need independent voices with the courage to speak out and shape public debate and contest the orthodoxies of both left and right. I commit myself to being one such voice.

I am a genuinely independent voice. In examining proposed legislation I will ask:

  • whether bills are socially and ecologically sustainable
  • whether they improve the social position of those who are economically marginalised
  • whether they increase or erode civil liberties

I believe in a regulated free market where government acts to protect citizens from over-powerful private corporations. I believe in a vibrant parliamentary democracy where good ideas triumph over vested interests. I believe in ‘the open society’ where the socially deprived such as the homeless, the disabled and the ill are protected. I believe in an Ireland that provides a strong voice for international human rights and justice. Since announcing my candidacy in February I have received pledges of support for a great number of people. Among those who support my campaign are Kathy Sinnot MEP, Ms Lelia Doolin, Fr Peter McVerry, Dr Nollaig O Muirile, Joe Murray of AFRI, Richard Douthwaite of FEASTA, Davie Phillip of the CULTIVATE CENTRE, Donncha O’Connell and a number of independent TDs from the last Dail. I want to acknowledge and thank all of those and pledge myself to conduct a rigorous and positive campaign centred on the issues of importance.    

Dr Mark Garavan is a native of Castlebar, Co. Mayo. He is a sociologist lecturing in the Department of Nursing, GMIT, Castlebar. From 1988 he worked for a number of years with Dublin Simon Community. He has worked as a youth care worker in Carlow and Kerry. He was a researcher with the Environmental Change Institute in NUI, Galway from 2000 to 2003. He was spokesperson for the Rossport Five during their imprisonment in 2005.  He is married to Pauline and has two children.

Goldman Prize Link

May 1, 2007 at 11:57 am | Posted in News | Leave a comment

You can see the video about Willie Corduff shown at the Goldman Prize ceremony at

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