The Green Party pledged to hold a referendum on affordable housing as it set out its strategy to at least double its Dail representation in the general election.
Confirming he was applying for the position of partner in the next government, the party leader, Mr Trevor Sargent, said he was confident of gaining three and possibly as many as five extra seats in the May 17th poll.
In a preview of his election manifesto to be announced on Sunday, Mr Sargent said the party’s campaign would focus on quality-of-life issues. Priorities would include clean air, clean water and safe food, with a ban proposed on waste disposal by incineration and fluoridation of water.
Emphasis would also be placed on efficiency in public transport, preventive healthcare and measures to bridge the rich-poor gap.
Mr Sargent also said his party in government would hold a referendum to make affordable housing, reasonable rents and fixity of tenure constitutional rights.
The party confirmed the names of 24 candidates to contest the election, eight women and 18 men, the highest number to enter the race for the Greens to date.
Mr Sargent said he was particularly optimistic about the chances of Cllr Dan Boyle in Cork South Central, Cllr Mary White in Carlow-Kilkenny and Cllr Paul Gogarty in the Dublin Mid West constituency.
The party presented its critique of the outgoing government in the form of an end-of-term report.
Mr Sargent said the Fianna Fail-PD coalition had failed key subjects like economics, where there was growing concern over public finances and social partnership, and social studies, where it had left one in five households living in relative poverty.
The health system was being ‘administrated to death’ by an unjustified increase in managers and administrators, while on the subject of the environment the country was chalking up hefty fines by continually breaching EU pollution and waste management directives.
Stressing the party’s ‘Green Politics, Clean Politics’ slogan, Mr Sargent criticised the Government for ‘hiding’ the tribunal reports so that candidates could not be properly assessed by the electorate.
‘The only future that would be appropriate for this Government would be to be put into opposition to learn the basics of what people need.’