Catherine Martin signals Ireland’s ‘ground breaking’ basic income scheme for artists to be expanded

Green deputy leader tells conference coming year is ‘pivotal’ and she is ‘absolutely committed’ to new public broadcasting funding model

Catherine Martin signals Ireland’s ‘ground breaking’ basic income scheme for artists to be expanded
Catherine Martin signals Ireland’s ‘ground breaking’ basic income scheme for artists to be expanded

By Marie O’Halloran

See original post here.

Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin has signalled an expansion of the Government’s pilot scheme paying artists a basic income.

Speaking to the Green Party conference in Dublin on Saturday evening, Ms Martin said that the €105 million pilot scheme, which guarantees artists enrolled on it an income of €325 a week, was “ground breaking”.

“Looking at the early findings of this pilot a compelling case is already emerging to justify rolling out this basic income to all artists – and make no mistake – this is my absolute goal.”

Ms Martin said that the coming year would be “pivotal” for the Green Party, claiming that “no one does local politics in a fairer, more sustainable and safer way”.

She said the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7th was “brutal” but that since then there had been a “mass slaughter of innocent people done under the warped guise of self-defence”. She said the “obstruction of humanitarian aid and the horrific starvation and destruction in this war-torn enclave must stop. And stop now.”

Ms Martin also targeted other EU countries for being “wrong and inconsistent” on Gaza, saying they had sanctioned Russia “yet lose their voice, their outrage, when it comes to imposing sanction on Israel”.

She said new laws implemented by Coimisiún na Meán would reduce the availability of harmful online content with social media firms who fail to comply with new regulations facing fines of up to €20 million and criminal sanctions for company directors.

Ms Martin said she is “absolutely committed” to agreeing a new funding model for public service broadcasting before the summer. “Unlike previous government this will happen,” she told Green Party delegates.

Earlier, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman has launched a scathing attack on the flip-flopping of other political parties on policy positions at the conference.

He said that “with a ballot box in one hand and the latest opinion poll in the other, they flail around for what’s popular, what’s easy”.

He said that parties were shifting their stance and “policies they supported last week, they oppose today. Laws they welcome in Dublin, they vote against in Brussels.

“It’s their own version of political fast fashion: they wear our clothes and then ditch them,” he said.

It is unusual for Mr O’Gorman, the party’s director of elections for the local elections, to be so sharply critical of other parties.

He received a sustained standing ovation before he addressed delegates at the Green Party conference, in the wake of the protest by a group of balaclava-wearing demonstrators who raised anti-immigration banners outside his home on Thursday night.

Mr O’Gorman said it had been a “challenging few days”.

Urging party members to work for the next 48 days to the election to stress what the Green Party had achieved, he pointed out that the party had gone from no Dáil seats in 2011 to its best result in the 2020 election, with 12 seats.

He said he was meeting targets on childcare provision.

He told delegates he would launch the Equal Start scheme which for the first time will “introduce targeted supports for early years services in areas of high disadvantage”.

Mr O’Gorman whose department last year took on the responsibility for disability services from the Department of Health, also pledged to sign, in the lifetime of the Government, the Optional Protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with a disability.

This allows a disabled person to make a complaint to the UN if they feel that their rights under the Convention are not being upheld.

On immigration and racism he said that across Ireland and Europe “we see the right and the far right exploiting the complexities and the challenges of our time with their narrow-minded conservatism and too often outright racism.

“Make no mistake there are people who want to drag us back environmentally and socially to remove the rights that have been so hard fought and so hard won, to engage in outright denial in the face of catastrophic climate breakdown.

But stressing that “politics without values is nothing but pandering” he said “in the Green Party, we are not led by knee-jerk online commentary” and “we believe in solidarity, equality and social justice. Not as a matter of political opportunism, but as a matter of principle. We will not hide it, we will not shy away from it.”

He highlighted the increasing “drive towards division and hatred; to assume the worst about everyone, at all times.

“We see the abuse, the misinformation and disinformation on social media having a real impact on our communities, and on the most vulnerable people in society.

“We have seen what happens in other countries when this takes hold; when the centre ground cedes the argument to the extremists.

“It must not be left to anonymous online accounts to define our democracy.”

“Our democracy is for the people who participate in it, who stand up and be counted,” he said.

Later Mr O’Gorman defended his trenchant criticism of other parties when asked if this was what could be expected in future from the party.

He said “it’s important that we highlight about turns, U-turns in terms of positions that parties take. We’re going into local and European elections and parties will be looking to form government” and what people say pre-and post-election is important.

“We have a strong track record of we said this and we did this. It’s legitimate to contrast dramatic and sudden changes.”

Also on Saturday Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said “we do have a different political philosophy from all the other parties. Included in it is respect for other political traditions.”

But in a historic time where dramatic change was needed to protect people and planet “you can’t mince your words on that”.

Some 500 delegates are expected to attend the one-day event at the RDS.

No motions will be proposed for debate as is standard for these events.

Instead, there will be a total focus on the seven-week run-up to the June 7th election date on how to maximise Green Party seats.

Urging voters to “Keep Going Green”, the party will run 112 candidates for the local elections with a target of a seat in every county.

Candidates will talk of why they are running. There will be a spotlight on the next generation of young Greens and through it all the party has sessions on what the Greens have done for Ireland at local, national and European level, and why they are needed in local authorities and in the European Parliament.

They will highlight Green initiatives including cuts in rail and bus fares and expansion of public transport services; cuts in childcare costs; increased grants for farmers to go organic; retrofitting of homes; and the basic income for artists pilot project which supports 2,000 artists.

The party’s two MEPs Ciaran Cuffe and Grace O’Sullivan, and candidate Senator Pauline O’Reilly will participate on a panel discussion on winning in the European elections.

And the newest Green Party Senator and party leader in Northern Ireland Mal O’Hara, will speak on Green politics north and south.

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