Chair of new Just Transition Greens says Green Party 'must change'

Chair of new Just Transition Greens says Green Party 'must change'
Cllr Lorna Bogue, Green Party Councillor for Cork City South East, is the chair of the newly formed Just Transition Greens. 

Cork City Councillor Lorna Bogue, the interim chair of the newly-formed Just Transition Greens, has said the Green Party "must change their ways", or risk being wiped out in the next general election.

Just Transition Green is a new affiliate group of the Green Party, based on the principle of social justice being intrinsically linked to climate justice.

Current and former members of the Green Party, as well as those who don't belong to any political organisation, can join the new left-wing group. 

The outspoken Green Party councillor says she believes there is something to be salvaged within the party, and the new group was formed to bring like-minded people together to achieve a just transition.

Cllr Bogue says a part of the Green Party is willing to reach out to other movements, and to reconnect with the environmental grassroots movement in particular. 

"That is something the Green Party itself is lacking at the moment. It's become institutionalised as a political party.

"I am still a member of the Green Party. This is a party I've put six years of work into, I will not be chased out of it.

"I am still of the opinion that there is something to be salvaged from the Green Party. Seeing as we have got a seat at the table now, it is a valuable opportunity to learn how government works.

"There are a lot of like-minded individuals within the Green Party who found each other during the programme for government process.

"We were all saying the same thing: climate justice is the important thing. Environmentalism is something that has to centre people in it.

"Our housing and health policies are just as important as our carbon reduction policies. All of these things are interwoven.

"We want environmentalism which lifts people up, and makes sure that wealth is distributed evenly in our society, and to make sure no one is left behind as a result of the changes that will have to come about if we are transitioning to a zero carbon society."

Cllr Bogue says while it is unfortunate the party voted to "reject climate justice" by entering government with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, she says there is an opportunity to be constructive.

"This party has said certain things at the doors [while canvassing]. We want to stay true to that. People voted for me on the understanding that the Green Party is a left-wing party.

"People's issues have not changed. The housing and homelessness crisis, the health crisis, waiting lists, precarious work, all of those things are still there and need to be dealt with."

She said they had already received a lot of sign ups to the new group. "I am excited for what comes next."

Speaking about her former fellow party member, Saoirse McHugh, who announced she was leaving the Green Party today, Cllr Bogue says she understands why she left the party.

File picture. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
File picture. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

"While Saoirse is still supportive of this new endeavour, she feels like she doesn't want to be associated with the Green Party, which is totally fair.

"It's actually a really sad indictment of the Green Party, that she is being made to feel this way. Senior members of the party have actively made her feel unwelcome, and I have witnessed that myself.

"I don't want to speak for her too much, but I say she felt a sense of relief."

She says it will be interesting to see what Ms McHugh does next, now that the Green Party are not "clipping her wings" and she is out of "the party structure, a party structure which is hostile to a lot of young women."

Cllr Bogue says the Just Transition group is also about "having a home for people leaving the Green Party."

"People have left because the party has veered so far from its principles, in terms of how its acting in government.

"We have been through this before.

"During the last time we were in government, there was a mass exodus of left-wing people when the decision was made to enter government.

"When we were destroyed by the electorate in the following general election, people left again.

"That is not productive because it puts the party back into a cycle that repeats itself. Let's not go through that this time. Let's not wait until the party is destroyed to build it up again."

She also believes more critical voices should be at the cabinet table, to ensure the Green Party is voting in line with its voters' wishes. "The party is structurally very weak when it comes to facing their voters, back benchers and the general public. 

"They are voting in line with the government, and then there is outrage from people because no one has... heard a critical voice.

"They have been perceived as very out of touch, because in some sense they are out of touch."

She says it is important to have this critical voice.

"I got used to being one of the few people who dared to speak out."

"Now we have a group behind us, and it is just brilliant. We can say what needs to be said now without fear.

"Now is the time for a broad based, grassroots eco-socialist movement, on the scale of what we saw with the marriage equality referendum and the repeal the Eighth campaign."

The Green Party were contacted for comment. 

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