Greens leader Trevor Sargent was given a spot on the op-ed page of this morning's Irish Times to celebrate his party's twenty-fifth year in existence. Of course back in 1981 it was the Ecology Party and it wasn't even a proper party. In 1987 the party received only 0.4 per cent of the vote but it made a breakthrough a couple of years later with the election of the eccentric Roger Garland. Sargent made it to the Dáil in 1992 and has been there ever since. Indeed, he hopes to bring in a running mate next time out in Dublin North. Sargent's message is that the Greens are no longer on the fringes of political life and that the party deserves chief credit for bringing environmental issues - and quality of life issues in general - onto the political agenda.
Our key policies - on which we have campaigned for a quarter of a century - are now more critical than ever. For 25 years, we have been actively pushing for better public transport; clean, renewable energy; improved provision for children, older people and vulnerable members of society; safer and higher-quality food; far-sighted planning and building regulations; clean politics; less pollution of water and air; and for a realistic strategy to tackle climate change.
Is this hyperbole or does he have a point? Would we have witnessed the greening of the policy agenda anyway? Such counterfactual speculations are probably a bit pointless and the fact remains that the Greens did establish a niche in the system and obviously raised the profile of environmental issues.