It is now over 18 months since the General Election of 2020 and what a tumultuous year it has been. None of us could have foreseen events unfolding as they did and for those of us elected to the 33rd Dáil, the duty to respond rested squarely on our collective shoulders.
The election proved inconclusive as three large parties emerged, yet the Green Party did incredibly well to go from three TDs to twelve. This we saw as a clear message from voters that action on biodiversity and climate should be front and centre of the political agenda.
As the pandemic came into sharp focus, the urgency of forming a stable government to help get us all through the mounting uncertainty became apparent and, so, we, the Green Party parliamentary members, felt it was up to us to lead exploratory talks on government formation.
What emerged from the painstaking discussions was, in my view, the most ambitious and progressive Programme for Government in the history of the Irish State: ‘Our Shared Future’, which can be found here: gov.ie - Programme for Government: Our Shared Future (www.gov.ie)
The months that followed were hectic, to say the least. I was honoured in July 2020 to be appointed by An Taoiseach as Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, based in the newly configured Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage. This broad portfolio includes Nature and Wildlife, (Built) Heritage and Monuments and Electoral Reform. I'm also working closely with colleagues across Government on Town Centres First, Marine Protected Areas and River Basin Management Plans.
To ensure that Departmental responsibilities need to be balanced with my Constituency work and that's why I've been holding weekly virtual clinics with constituents on their respective important issues and meeting with Carlow and Kilkenny Chambers of Commerce and County Councils on the significant work they are doing and would like to do.
I feel very proud to be both a Minister and a TD. Below you will find highlights from my work in the past year across both roles.
My work as TD for Carlow-Kilkenny
My work in 2020/2021 as Minister for Heritage & Electoral Reform
Nature and Wildlife
(Built) Heritage and Monuments
Town Centres First