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Fianna Fáil looking for an energy policy in Westport, Mayo in September

Liam Reid, Political Reporter
An Oxford academic and energy policy adviser to British prime minister Tony Blair is to address the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party's annual "think-in" next month - an indication that the party is to prioritise energy policy in the run-up to the general election.
Economist Dr Dieter Helm, considered to be one of Britain's leading experts on energy policy who has recently written about how to encourage new nuclear plants in the UK, will be one of five guest speakers at the two-day meeting in Westport, Co Mayo.
In contrast to the last two years where social policy was a major element at the meetings, this year's Fianna Fáil meeting will instead be focusing on key issues for the general election campaign - crime, health and the economy, all of which will be the subject of individual sessions.
The allocation of a full session of the meeting to energy issues, and the attendance of Dr Helm, is an indication of the seriousness with which energy policy is now being taken by Fianna Fáil.
It comes amid ongoing high fossil-fuel prices, increasing greenhouse gas emissions from Irish industry and transport, and the fact that Ireland is now one of the most oil-dependent economies in the world.
The Government is due to publish a Green Paper on energy policy by the end of the year.
Government chief whip Tom Kitt told The Irish Times there would also be a focus at the meeting on getting backbenchers' input into the major policy areas in line with commitments from earlier in the summer.
The meeting will also be addressed by Conor Brady, former editor of The Irish Times who is now one of the three members of the Garda Ombudsman's Commission. He will speak about Garda reform. Bank of Ireland chief economist Dan McLaughlin and Dr Maureen Lynott, chairwoman of the National Treatment Purchase Fund, will also address the meeting.

Posted Date: 
23 August 2006 - 5:29pm