What I’d really like to see in 2015:
1. Climate change being taken seriously.
We don’t have any more time to mess around. We have to make real and substantial changes now, if our children and grandchildren, and the most vulnerable and blameless of the world’s people, are not to pay a terrible price for our stupidity and greed. The best piece of news recently is the anticipation of Pope Francis’s forthcoming encyclical. If he speaks out as trenchantly as we hope, it’s possible that millions of Catholics, the other Christians and people of other or no faith who respect his judgment, and global leaders both political and religious, will take notice and act. That is my first prayer and hope for our new year.
2. The departure of this cruel and duplicitous coalition government in the UK.
David Cameron and his cronies, facilitated by the spineless LibDems, have succeeded in overseeing a massive shift of resources from the poor to the rich, an increase in fear, suspicion and selfishness, the destruction of hopes for a sustainable future and the worsening of every measure of the common good. Their friends in the media, fellow beneficiaries of the Tory Robin-Hood-in-reverse, have gone along with every step, setting up only the straw Farage as a pseudo-opposition. My second hope, therefore, is that the people of the UK will come to their senses before May and choose a genuine alternative.
3. The Green surge continuing throughout the British Isles.
This isn’t mere party loyalty. The growth in membership and support of the Green Party has been the only effective counterbalance to the media-fuelled rise of UKIP and will serve not only to bring more much-needed Green MPs into Parliament but also to remind parties such as Labour that there are people out there who respect principle, know that ‘aspiration’ means more than a fatter wallet and that our children’s futures are not to be gambled for a cheap soundbite. Without the Greens, I fear we’d only have shades of blue.
4. Northern Irish politicians acknowledging their mistakes and seeking a wider vision.
Between Sinn Fein, whose wafer-thin progressive credentials were accidentally exposed by Gerry Adams this year, and the DUP, who increasingly glory in having none, politics in Northern Ireland is increasingly petty, bad-tempered and out of touch with external standards of behaviour. The results aren’t just embarrassing; they’re positively retrograde and damaging to our hopes of a positive and prosperous future for this beautiful and gifted region. It is no coincidence that Steven Agnew has won numerous independent awards for his integrity, professionalism and hard work as a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly. If other MLAs followed his example, our shared future would be a real prospect instead of a ragged hope.
5. An end to the threat of fracking in Fermanagh and beyond.
2014 has brought great successes to the frack-free movement both locally and worldwide, with Tamboran forced to postpone their plans for Belcoo, increasing evidence of the futility and destructive nature of the technique, and bans in the most unexpected places, including New York and the ‘fracking capital’ of Denton, Texas. It would be foolish, though, to think that we have won. The UK government is more keen than ever to subsidise its friends in the fossil fuel industry, Tamboran are bringing judicial review proceedings to try to recover their licence, and more areas of Northern Ireland are under threat from the experimental process. Nearly all of our politicians here in Northern Ireland, and especially those standing for election in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, claim to be ‘anti-fracking’ but few, apart from the Green Party, have taken any action to stop it (1). And with political funding still secret here (2), we have no way of knowing what might be in their interests during the months and years to come.
There are a few more things on my long wish list, including new brakes for my bike and the loss of the few pounds I’ve put on in mince pies, but these will do for a start. Very best wishes to you all for a peaceful, happy and hopeful New Year.
(1) At the recent vote on the government’s Infrastructure Bill, which will change the law of trespass to allow fracking under people’s homes against their will, only ten MPs voted No, including Caroline Lucas of the Green Party. Sinn Fein MPs do not attend the House of Commons and so did not take part in the debate or the vote.
(2) The Green Party does not accept corporate donations, and publishes details of all donations over £500.