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Saoirse McHugh

Candidate for Seanad

My vision for Mayo

Climate breakdown is the most critical challenge humanity has ever faced. However, it presents an enormous opportunity to the sometimes forgotten communities in rural counties like Mayo. I want to work to create and maintain a healthy and protected environment – our survival depends on it.

What I stand for

I am an environmentalist, a democratic socialist, and a grower. I believe in the need for a just transition and a sustainable and resilient agricultural system, and as the green party candidate for the Mayo, I will prioritise climate actions that will benefit rural Ireland.

My priorities

    • Sovereignty. An energy independent Ireland is an enormous opportunity. To remain below a 1.5°C increase in global temperature, Ireland must move towards a renewable and sovereign energy system. Communities in Ireland have a chance to control their own energy and end their reliance on countries engaged in human rights violations. Revenue neutral carbon tax, a phasing out of all fossil fuels, and an upgraded energy grid that can support renewable generation are required.
    • Justice. A just transition will be vital in order to ensure that the change to a low carbon economy does not perpetuate the existing inequalities in our society. Our focus should be on retraining and assisting communities in designing their futures, with public participation at every stage to make sure that nobody gets left behind.
    • Resilience. Creating resilient communities is key to securing a higher quality of life for all. Strengthening local supply chains, preparing for and protecting against our increasingly unpredictable weather, creating thriving circular economies in the smallest of areas, and interrupting the urbanisation cycle are all crucial areas where government support is needed.

My experience

After acquiring my Bachelors of Science in Genetics in UCD, I gained practical knowledge of the environmental challenges facing our planet by working with people saving seeds, planting trees, and restoring soil. I completed a Masters in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in Lancaster University, with a focus on the politics of food production, and went on to work with the Irish Seed Savers Association in Co. Clare where I became acutely aware of the fragility of our food system. This led me to get involved with Food Sovereignty Ireland, and I am also on the committee of the Organic Growers of Ireland.

I see the policies that govern how we interact with our environment as crucial leverage points in our fight against climate change and have engaged with the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) on creating a proposal for a Common Food Policy for the EU to replace the Common Agricultural Policy. I have been working with the community environment legal defence fund (CELDF) in the US on the possibility of getting a ‘Rights of Nature’ bill into the Irish constitution and have been relentlessly campaigning on issues such as climate change, community resilience, and biodiversity loss.