Peace, justice and our future: Culann Walsh for London Green European election candidate
As the government continues its negotiations over Brexit – both with the European Union and the UK parliament – the possibility of the UK participating in the forthcoming European Parliament elections is becoming more and more likely. In light of this, regional Green Parties have begun the process of selecting candidates to fight those elections.
Bright Green is inviting all those standing to be Green candidates for these potential elections to write a short article, outlining why party members should select them. One of these candidates is Culann Walsh, and this is what they had to say:
As a young Irish person living in the UK, I have a particular experience with the European Union.
The EU has contributed greatly to peace in Ireland. Many of my earliest memories are of violence in Belfast, Derry and Omagh. As a child, I was very aware that a war was taking place in my country. This also led to further violence in the rest of Ireland and in Britain. Over the past 20 years, the ever closer relationship between Ireland and the UK has facilitated a peace in Northern Ireland which is now seriously at risk.
On the other hand, when I was 16 years old, Ireland went into recession. In the following years, unemployment for young people never managed to recover. This was largely because of EU pressure on Ireland to implement austerity.
So I am approaching this from the perspective of someone who is deeply critical of some aspects of the European Union, but I also fully appreciate its power and importance in solving the greatest challenges we are currently facing.
I have been extremely disappointed by how little attention has been paid over the last three years to the situation in Northern Ireland and the threat to the hard won peace. In particular as it seems like British political elites would appear to care less about the prospect of conflict in their own country than Ireland, and even the rest of Europe, does. Whatever the future relationship between the UK and the EU, keeping this peace must be the first priority.
We need to fund education and employment schemes in these areas to help communities to lift themselves out of conflict. This is something the EU has a strong track record of doing and, as an MEP, I would do all I can to go even further with this.
Too often, we speak about climate change as something we have 12 years to stop. In truth, climate change is happening right now and it is unjust, colonial and racist. Whether it is devastating Pacific nations with sea level rises, causing drought in West Asia, pollution in London disproportionately harming people of colour or endangering vulnerable people in this country with extreme weather, climate change is hurting those who have done the least to cause it.
As part of the EU, we need to make sure urgent steps are taken to reduce the impact of climate change, from free public transport across Europe to massive investment in renewable energy, and whatever the future relationship between the UK and the EU, cooperation on climate policy must be a core focus.
Over a third of Londoners are under 30 and yet so few of our representatives on any level are in the same bracket. I will use my voice as an MEP to amplify the voices of young Londoners and push the issues that affect us the most. From climate justice and peace as mentioned above which will affect younger generations the most, to freedom of movement and employment protections, young Londoners have a lot at stake in the EU and I want to work to make sure those areas are improved even further.
I hope by standing in this election, I can shift the debate towards these issues and make an impact on how we speak about peace, climate justice and young people.
Whatever happens and whoever is selected to represent Green issues in this election, we are going to be heard and our message of social and climate justice will ring true.
Culann Walsh is a Green Party activist in London. In 2018, Walsh stood in the local elections in Haringey.
All articles from those seeking to be Green candidates for London in the European Parliament elections can be found here.