Green - Brendan McCann

Q & A with Waterford Green Party candidate Brendan McMcann


 Name  Brendan McCann Address 169, Viewmount, Waterford Date of birth 18/11/59 Constituency  Waterford Party  Green








Income (aside from income derived from political office):

circa. €96 000


Approximate net worth of capital assets (aside from family residence): Personal belongings that are priceless to myself but negligible in financial terms.

Information on political career to date: Member of Green Party since 1996. Unsuccessful candidate in general elections of 1997 (circa 800 first preference votes) and 2002 (circa 1200 first preference votes) and local elections of 1999 (circa 200 first preference votes)and 2004 (circa 500 first preference votes).


Personal election manifesto:

The following is the text of my election leaflet for the 2004 local elections. I hope it will give an idea of the issues that I consider to be important.


Planning in Waterford is lopsided. Roads, apartments, housing estates and commercial developments have priority over community facilities. The playgrounds at the People's Park and the Ring Road are not enough for a major city. There is only one public swimming pool in Waterford. Residents' associations and community groups want sportsfields, community facilities and safe open spaces, but they are not being listened to.

We need a clear vision of where we want to be in twenty years' time. Facilities should be provided as housing estates are built. Trees, hedgerows and old structures should be incorporated into new developments, not bulldozed away. The growth in the number of city-centre apartments needs to be matched by public parks and community buildings. The built and archaeological heritage of Waterford needs protection from greedy apartment and commercial developments of inferior design. St. John's River and the Suir have the potential for riverside walks and cycleways with access to wildlife and wetlands. We should develop that potential, not destroy it.

Playgrounds, community halls, sports fields and our natural heritage are not luxuries. They are essential to the well-being of us all.


We produce over 40,000 tonnes of waste in Waterford City each year, almost a tonne per person. Kilbarry dump is full and should have been closed long ago. There are plans to build a ‘waste-to-energy' plant at Belview. This will commit the South-East to providing 150 000 tonnes of waste each year for incineration over the next twenty years, at a cost of 15 million euro per annum. The operating contract will make sure that we pay the full amount even if the waste isn't delivered.

Incineration is a dead-end technology which wastes vast sums of money and results in hazardous ash which has to be dumped in special landfills. Our Government wants to spend over a billion euro building Incinerators and Superdumps. This won't solve the underlying problem of Waste Production and will leave a legacy of pollution for generations to come.

The long-term solutions to our waste problems are Waste Prevention and Minimisation, Reuse of Materials and Recycling. This will create more jobs than incinerators and superdumps. Waterford's three-bin system needs to be extended right across the South East. We should tax excessive packaging and non-recyclable materials and subsidise recycling and deposit-refund schemes. Above all we need action right across our society, not just lip service, to cut down on the enormous amounts of waste we produce.

The Waterford Greens are committed to the promotion of a Zero Waste society by working with local and national Government to put increased funding and effective legislation into Reduction, Reuse and Recycling. We will work with community groups, schools, local industries and shops and anyone else that supports this aim. Zero Waste will not come about overnight, but the Greens believe that it's the only sensible option.


The South East urgently needs decentralised facilities for the treatment of cancer and other serious illnesses. This should not be a ‘political football'. We need to work together to provide fairer access to treatment for people of all incomes. There is also a huge need for health education, especially in the area of preventative healthcare.

Making our society more inclusive will require money and a willingness to let marginalised groups decide how it is spent. Personal assistants must be provided to allow disabled people get on with their lives and respite breaks need to be funded for those who care for disabled family members.

The funding of community development projects and social economy enterprises can enable disadvantaged communities provide facilities and services for themselves. Traveller accommodation programmes need to be developed and put in place.

Primary and second-level schools and home-school liaison schemes need vastly increased funding to cope with the needs of the many students who are being left behind. Psychological assessment and speech therapy services are a necessity, not a luxury. We should allow Asylum-seekers to work while their cases are being investigated. The system of ‘direct provision' robs people of dignity and hope.

Measures which build self-esteem, lessen dependancy and empower people to act responsibly for themselves are a crucial and necessary investment in our future.


The Dunmore Road is close to gridlock. The Quays are a giant car park. Unnecessary traffic is wasting our time and polluting our air. Ring roads, bridges and motorways are planned. Without effective public transport, they will only create more congestion.

Road design in Waterford facilitate vehicles, not pedestrians or cyclists. Traffic comes first, people second. No wonder most parents won't let their children walk or cycle to school. We need a people-friendly and healthy transport system in Waterford, based on walking, cycling and public transport. Car pools should be facilitated by lower parking charges and reserved spaces in public car parks, such as Miller's Marsh. Driver-only commuting needs to be discouraged if public transport is to work.

A comprehensive cycle lane network could be provided in Waterford at relatively little cost. The new cycle lanes on the Dunmore Road are a welcome beginning. Safe cycle routes to and from schools would help reduce obesity and promote independence among older children.

The Waterford Imp bus service should be extended. We need a clean, frequent, punctual and well-organised bus system in Waterford City. This may require public funding, but there will be long-term savings and our air will be cleaner.


Most of the goods we consume in Waterford come from abroad. We should demand that they are not the results of child labour or unjust wages. We should promote Fair Trade by purchasing goods that are produced in a socially and environmentally responsible manner and by campaigning for increased Development Aid and an end to Third World debt.

Overuse of fossil fuels is changing our climate. If we don't act soon we could have increased storms, coastal erosion and drought. Paradoxically our weather could become wetter and colder if the Gulf Stream is diverted. Agriculture will suffer. Many poor nations will be hit hard by expanding deserts, tropical storms and severe flooding. Waste prevention, energy conservation and the development of wind and solar energy are needed to maintain living standards, while reducing global impacts.

We need to embrace the concept of sustainable development if we are to have a secure long-term social, economic and environmental future. Waterford can play its part by using resources efficiently and wisely, and by promoting alternative modes of development to those which are currently placing so much stress on us and our environment.


• A Zero Waste City by 2020.
• New industries based on recycling.
• A clean, frequent, well-organised and punctual public transport service.
• Provision of speech therapy and psychological assessment services in our schools, together with improved home-school liaison services.
• Fair access to healthcare and health education
for all.
• Community and recreational facilities to be made a planning priority.
• A comprehensive cycle lane system, including safe cycleways to and from schools.
• Protection of Waterford's historical legacy and development of  heritage tourism.
• Protection for hedges, trees and wetlands and our built heritage.
• Waterford to be promoted as a region for clean, non-polluting industries.
• Riverside walks and cycleways (where possible) along St.John's River and the Suir.
• More and better-organised opportunities for public participation in decision-making.

Why should voters in your constituency vote for you rather than for other candidates, including candidates representing the political party which you represent? 

Without wishing to sound trite, I think the voters in the Waterford constituency should only vote for me if they generally agree with my, and my party's policies, and consider that I would be generally effective in securing their implementation.


What do you consider to be the main election issues in your constituency?
In my opinion the most profound issue facing us is the uncritical acceptance in so many quarters of the current model of virtually unrestrained economic growth, which could if unchecked, lead to social and environmental disintegration, not only in Waterford, but in Ireland as a whole.

At a constituency level in Waterford, many of the leading issues are based on an accpetance of this economic model. For example the case of the need (or otherwise) for a University in Waterford is being framed in terms of the supposed economic ‘benefits' it will bring to the region, and not in terms of the benefits to civil society that would result from the establishment of a institution devoted to the critical analysis of the many crucial issues facing us today (not least our support of the United States of America in thier ongoing war in Iraq).

Similarly, while the impact of measures designed to protect our increasingly fragile living environment (such as the Nitrates Directive and the ban of drift net fishing) are being discussed in the context of the livelihoods of farmers and fishermen, there is little thought being given to the economic model (essentially the ‘Raubwirtschaft' of classical 19th century econimics) that is squeezing the life out of ‘smaller' farms (i.e. up to 200 acres) and coastal fishing communities.

In the area of health there is a major issue with regard to the provision in the South-East of radiotherapy services for cancer sufferers in the public hospital service. This is, in my view, a valid concern and should be addressed immediately. The same logic should also dictate that there should be similar services in the North-West region. Otherwise, as regards health, the negative campaigning by all the opposition parties has, in my view, detracted from the urgent need to look at preventative measures in healthcare. There is a need for the political process to examine how it can lead/encourage/cajole us to adopt healthier ways of living. For example, there is very little commuter cycling or walking in Waterford City, even though most commutes are over walkable/cyclable distances and it is also known that increased walking and cycling has huge health benefits (even in the area of cancer, e.g. bowel cancer). If ‘health' is to be a dominant political issue then, given the connection between ‘health' and ‘lifestyle', then ‘lifestyle' must also become an election issue.

Were do you stand in relation to these constituency issues?

If we are ever to be able to create a socially and environmentally sustainable and just society then we will have to change how we do just about everything. The key challenge it therefore to somehow disengage ourselves from from the corrosive economic growth model and create a functioning ‘steady-state' economy that will satisfy our reasonable needs (e.g. improved rail services in the south-east region), while damping demand for unnecessary and expensive ‘wants' (e.g. the proposed white elephant motorway from Dublin to Waterford). Thus I believe that it is important above all to create a rational debate about the long-term needs of the Waterford constituency and the South-East region in general, before espousing populist demands.

How much money do you expect to spend in the election campaign?

Ideally I would like to spend nothing on the campaign, as it should be up to the voting public to inform themselves before making their decision. Realistically I will certainly be distributing some leaflets, which could bring my expenditure up to circa €3-5 000 (depending on the amount). If I put up posters then this could end up being €6-10 000. Thus the estimated expenditure is: €6 500? 3 500 [note that the margin for error is even greater than that for most opinion polls].

What will be the sources of this finance?

The Waterford Green Party local constituency group has promised a certain amount (circa €500). A friend has promised a similar amount. At present it seems that the remainder will be borne by my spouse and myself.