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17th April 2020 | Blog post

A message from Marc Ó Cathasaigh TD

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A chairde,

I hope you had a peaceful and restful Easter and made the best of the strange situation we find ourselves in. I treated myself to the first days off I’ve allowed myself since the election, concentrated on my family and ate far more chocolate than was wise.  I settled back into the work yesterday evening much refreshed as a result.

We have had a frenetic few weeks as a Parliamentary Party.  Just as the new TDs began to find our way around Leinster House, we were exiled again and, like so many others around the country, had to figure out how to be effective while remote working. Much of what we do can be done at a computer or via a conference call, but I must admit that I am missing those informal interactions that very often oil the cogs and help people come together as a team.

One positive to come from our new style of working is the members’ webinars which our General Secretary Maura Rose has been rolling out. I’ve participated in a number of them, and found them very useful in getting feedback from our membership. For sure, the format needs to be refined – it feels a little strange to be delivering a monologue into a webcam, and I’d like to be able to interact a little more directly – but I think it’s important for our membership to hear directly from their Green Party TDs and to be able to put questions to them.  I for one hope it’s something we’ll continue to use and improve as we move, hopefully, into a post-Covid world.

I find myself very busy as well within my own brief of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. I’ve always understood the Green Party as an environmental movement underpinned by social democratic values, so it was a role I was delighted to be asked to take on in the first place, but it has become increasingly important in light of the government response to the Covid-19 crisis, with so many becoming unemployed practically overnight. I’ve used my position to twice address the Dáil on behalf of those in vulnerable communities who might otherwise be left behind, and to raise gaps in the provision directly with the minister and her department.

And I think the basic tenets of social protection will remain central, not just in how we respond to this immediate crisis, but also to the looming crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. In making the transition to a low carbon society, we will have to be mindful of how those changes impact people across our society, and in particular those most vulnerable.

Lastly, a word on kindness. We’re all living a strange new reality, underpinned by a nagging anxiety.  We’re all worried – for ourselves, for our jobs, for our loved ones. The Parliamentary Party is facing into a week where we know we will be under the most intense scrutiny with regard to government formation talks. I know others among you will be going out to staff frontline services, others will be worried about how to make ends meet, others yet will be dealing with loss.

So let’s be kind to one another, and let’s be kind to ourselves too. This is a long, hard road we’re walking, but let’s walk it together, and the journey will be the better for the company.