World of Politics with Harry McGee – email@example.com
Programmes for Governments are ultimately only words on a page – albeit many, many words. The one produced by Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Greens runs to over 170 pages of closely-spaced text – that’s the size of many airport novels.
It’s not fiction, though it’s not fact yet either; just hundreds and hundreds of aspirations – some big, some small, some befuddling.
If they all were to happen, it would have a transformative impact on society. If even half of it is achieved it will be a game-changer.
But that said, some measures are as real as a winning lottery ticket; there’s a chance it might happen. But we know what that chance is.
That said, there is no doubt that the programme has a strong green hue to it. As Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin said in her statement endorsing it on Monday night, it is not about the programme, but getting it implemented.
And nobody is under any illusion that it’s going to be tough.
Many of the measures are long-term and that just doesn’t suit short-term government. Getting carbon emissions down by seven per cent will really only begin to be seen – if it happens – towards the end of the decade.
Even though a massive €360 million a year has been earmarked for walking and cycling infrastructure, we are not going to see new pathways and cycle ways appear like mushrooms overnight.
The reality is the fruits of many of those policies will only be seen after this Government has ended. And given the absolute horror it faces, its chances of re-election look slim already.
That said, by any yardstick, the programme is a good one for the Greens. Many of the 17 demands they sent in April to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have been delivered – even if the language around a lot of them is a little bit woolly and aspirational.
However, the complexion of the party has changed. Some of its membership no longer accept the narrow environmental message but say that social justice and climate justice are intertwined.
In other words, they place the party very firmly to the left – even if they are still a minority within the party.
There have been dissenting voices in both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil – but the expectation has always been that their membership will follow the views of the leadership on the matter.
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Aran to welcome Ireland’s largest domestic passenger ferry
The largest domestic passenger ferry in the country is making its journey from the Far East to the Far West – ready to commence service from Galway to the three Aran Islands.
The 40-metre ‘Saoirse na Farraige’ represents a massive investment – and vote of confidence – in island tourism on the part of the owners, Aran Island Ferries.
Commissioned in January 2019, this sixth member of their fleet has a capacity of 400 – and it is expected to arrive in Galway Bay from Hong Kong in October.
The vessel departed Hong Kong last week, embarking on a 2,500 mile journey to Galway Bay – inside the hold of a heavy lift ship called Svenja’”.
Saoirse na Farraige has at least three more stops to make before arriving in Galway Bay at the end of October – and it won’t not enter service until next spring.
Aran Island Ferries Sales and Marketing Manager, Aine McLoughlin, said that they were looking forward to seeing visitors enjoy their journey to the Aran Islands, enjoying the increased capacity, accessibility, and safety features.
“We are really looking forward to officially launching ‘Saoirse na Farraige’ next year and seeing visitors enjoy their journey to the Aran Islands on board our new ferry,” she said.
Saoirse na Farraige will serve all three islands from Rossaveel – with a journey time of 40 minutes to Inis Mór, 50 minutes to Inis Meáin, and 55 minutes to Inis Oírr.
Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in now – or download our digital edition at www.connachttribune.ie
Emergency Department upgrade will happen at UHG – but it’s complicated
Revamping the emergency department at UHG will involve three separate projects – leading to the hospital’s chief describing the process as ‘very complex’.
City Councillor John Connolly (FF) said the people of Galway were concerned that the new emergency department – like the ring road – would never happen, as it appeared to be so bound up in red tape.
Joe Hoare, assistant national director of estates in HSE West, told the Regional Health Forum West meeting that that outpatients department adjacent to the emergency department was being redeveloped to create more capacity for streaming Covid patients from non-Covid patients for the winter.
The outpatients department would be relocated to the Merlin Park campus. The design for this building would be completed within ten months with construction expected to begin in by last 2021 at the earliest.
An interim emergency department was the next priority so that the current building could be knocked to make way for the new state-of-the-art building, creating a new maternity department and paediatrics unit.
Since the budget for the new children’s hospital had blown out of all proportion, the rules over public projects over €100 million had changed and the Saolta hospital group had to ensure its business case for the massive project was ‘watertight’.
Mr Hoare said all three projects were moving in parallel, including the enabling works for the main build, which would take around 18 months to complete.
He described the project as Saolta’s ‘absolute top priority and was regarded as such by the national HSE organisation.
Head of Saolta, Tony Canavan, said the project was ‘big and very complex’ and required management to remain ‘very focused over a long time’.