GUI toolkits can be designed on pure functional principles, although that wasn't what I was advocating. Look up Functional Reactive Programming. There are various toolkits for Haskell implementing these techniques.
Safety is always a good thing to build into modern languages, not just because no one wants their programs to crash so much, but because in some cases it really matters - errors and inaccuracies in GUI programs can have all sorts of effects from wasted time right up to death. Languages should be designed to reduce programmer mistakes. Garbage collection is one of many techniques in this area. Others include: design contracts, modularity, strong typing, phantom types, test-driven development.
Unfortunately all of this research seems to have passed over the heads of the developers of Vala.
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