“One simple solution can immediately put money circulating into rural economies: Stop the waste of energy.” This was the key message of our campaign launch on Thursday evening of Tipperary Green Party.
Speaking at my campaign lauch on the theme of “Creating Rural Jobs and Investment”, Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan spoke about his own roots in the Glen of Aherlow, and how he felt green economics can have a real impact on rural communities: “I commend Gearóid for stepping forward. The impact of community development work is limited unless our country gets strong political direction. He is as good a candidate as they get – he is doing in his real life what we are all talking about.”
A number of other of guests spoke, including Con Harrington. According to Con, “You get enthused by being involved. Gearóid has brought huge enthusiasm into our community – if the rest of Tipperary know what he has done, I’m sure they would back him. The more support he gets, the more attention will be paid to his message”
I also spoke on how locally owned energy can be turned into local invesment, “The exclusive focus on Foreign Direct Investment is ignoring the massive opportunity in cutting our country’s yearly €5.7billion spend on imported energy. In Tipperary that’s €300 million per year leaving the county. Our own local authority could easily tap into European Investment Bank funding to do this across the county, to be paid back over 15-20 years. We need our government to mandate our local authorities to do this. Tipperary should be leading here. For every 1 million spent on retrofit, 25 jobs are created.”
In wrapping up we thanked everyone who had attended and helped out – and the event sponsors – The Apple Farm, Longways Cider, and the Green Sheep.
My final comment was “My motivation for standing in the election is to highlight the need to use energy as a driver of rural communities. We need to develop community energy initiatives. We should have a network of 200 or 300 energy co-operatives in Ireland, like what has developed in Germany. When Horace Plunkett went out with one or two staff in the1890s, within five or six years you had 400 or 500 agricultural co-operatives set up with almost 200,000 members. Our agriculture sector is missing this opportunity. Our own state or ICOS are not backing it. For most of Tipperary’s towns and villages, there is no recovery to keep going, and Richard Bruton will never come and cut a ribbon announcing the latest arm of Google or Linked In. We need local solutions.”