An opportunity to generate new ideas

June 6, 2007 at 2:24 pm | Posted in Statements | Leave a comment

The Seanad election campaign now underway offers the opportunity to develop new ideas and to conduct a serious debate on the character and direction of Irish society. If the Seanad is to claim any relevance then it must be as a reflective forum where good ideas can be debated outside the constraints of party politics and constituency pressures. 

Over the coming four weeks I will outline specific solutions to four major challenges facing our country. I will do so following consultation with key figures in each area or with people directly affected by failures in each area. 

First, there is the challenge of the democratic deficit. This impacts most immediately at a local level where citizens find it difficult to participate meaningfully in decisions affecting their community. 

Second, there is the challenge of a limited and slow health service. We clearly need intelligent resource allocation, better primary health-care, specialised rights-based services for the disabled and the mentally ill and a well-supported de-hospitalisation strategy.

Third, there is the challenge of crime, particularly petty crime and anti-social behaviour, fueled in large measure by drug misuse and social deprivation. We need a comprehensive management of our large drug problem with a therapeutic, welfare-oriented approach rather than a crime and control orientation. 

Finally, we need to re-think and re-design our economic policies so that they are both socially and ecologically sustainable. In the words of the Stern Report ‘tackling climate change is the pro-growth strategy for the long-term.’ With good planning and wise policies we can create renewed economies and civilized societies. 

I believe we need a democracy where good ideas triumph over vested interests. I intend to do my best to contribute to that over the coming weeks.    

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