THE Greenies, for whom politics is the finest blood sport ever invented, love to tell anyone who’ll listen that they when it comes to forming a government, ‘they’ll step in again.’ Which, of course, implies that they also might ‘step out again,’ so complex are the arguments taking place over whether or not the party should be part of a coalition with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael
Experts in sitting on the fence with both ears to the ground, the Green Party has evolved into a complex form of political life under the leadership of Eamon Ryan. In public it oozes a refined sense of political responsibility, moderate conservatism, duty and, of course, a patriotic obligation to serve in government. In private, the party is marked by acrimony and personal abuse, tearing itself apart and failing dismally to reach agreement on the best way to prop up a FG-FF government!
Nevertheless, Greenie enthusiasts insist that the party is up there in the superior political echelons of Irish society, where it’s seen to possess a heightened sense of public responsibility.
What’s more, it has had a political impact the likes of which have never before been seen and may well form part of a future coalition government consisting of themselves, FF and FG!
Cat dragged in
Of course, a potential FG-FF government could seek the support of Sinn Féin instead of the Greenies, but that’s unlikely to happen. The two mainline parties treat the democratically-elected SF party as something the cat dragged in, using every trick in the trade to deny them entry into government.
In the meantime, although the lower orders perceive Greenies as wackos, the fact is that the party is poised to enter government as part of a coalition. They would be a component of what is being described as a ‘national government’ whose manufactured task is to deal with the coronavirus threat.
Now, ‘national governments,’ otherwise known as ‘crisis governments of national unity,’ are very dodgy concepts. As far as the public is concerned, such governments have a curious provenance, having been promoted in the 1930s by people who dabbled in extremist politics.
Adding to public unease is the fact that a ‘national government’ promoted by a party with ‘dodgy’ antecedents, raises the possibility (admittedly remote at this stage) that one day the normal working of parliamentary democracy might be suspended indefinitely. For instance, a pretext could be invented to expel Sinn Féin from the Dáil, or pointedly ignore its election results or treat them as non-important.
In other words, a ‘national government’ could end up as a regime of far-right authoritarianism, which hardly is what the people want.
Growth of Greenies
Mickey, who doesn’t seem to have examined ‘the national government proposal’ in any depth, rejected the Blueshirt idea on the basis that it would ‘make government less effective, not more.’ He offered no explanation as to why that should be the case.
In the meantime, the focus of attention has been on the Greenies and the good show they put up in the general election, having jumped from three Dáil seats to twelve. Indeed, even if the party has an exaggerated opinion of its own electoral importance, it deserves the swelled head on the basis of having won a mandate to go into government.
Yet, according to media accounts, its progress up the slippery slope won’t be easy. The Green Party is demanding a 7% annual cut in greenhouse gas emissions as part of any government deal. In fact they’ve made it a ‘red-line’ for entering government.
Which has seriously got up the collective nostrils of Fianna Fáil. Accusations of Greenies destroying the lifestyle of rural farmers came fast and furious, details of which were released to the media after a recent weekend meeting of eminent FF politicos.
For instance, Green leader, Eamon Ryan, was described as ‘acting like an idiot’ with his demand for a year-on-year 7% carbon emission reduction, even though the figure is higher than the 2% currently in the Climate Action Plan (Mickey Martin, however, supports the Green demand for an annual 7% cut in emissions)
‘Shocking and disturbing’
At the same meeting, Niall Collins, TD for Limerick, called on Mickey to ‘come out from behind the door’ and support the controversial Shannon LNG, (gas terminal). Greenies are dead nuts against it because of its use of imported fracked gas as an energy source, even though fracking is banned here.
At the same meeting, Galway TD, Eamon Ó Cuív also got a dig in by appealing to Greenies to lift their objections to the planned by-pass of Galway city.
Currently, Green politicos seem unable to decide if there is any point in entering into discussions about forming a government with FF. Twelve weeks have passed since the general election and there has been little political rapport between the two parties.
Which has led to speculation that the Greens have thrown their lot in with Fine Gael despite that party’s former lukewarm approach to environmental matters.
But now, according to Simon Coveney, the 7% emissions plan would ‘decimate rural Ireland. And that won’t happen, even if it means another election,’ he promised.
The Green Party deputy leader, Catherine Martin (no relation to Mickey as far as we know), described Simon Coveney’s blunt comments as ‘shocking and disturbing.’ Another Greenie commented to this scribe: ‘one would worry about what FG would be like behind closed doors if they could be so bloody-minded at this stage with respect to the 7% target!’
In response, media kudos were earned by Business Minister Heather Humphries who bluntly pointed out that Fine Gael was anxious for the Greens to be part of a government that was ‘ambitious’ in terms of climate targets. ‘But,’ she pointedly warned, ‘we want to make sure we don’t cause carnage!’
The dreaded split
Other Fine Gael critics are less diplomatic, arguing that the Greens cannot be allowed ‘to hold the country to ransom’ and that they should learn ‘how mature political negotiations work.’
Which has prompted observers to highlight the party history of cracks and schisms, now that the time has come for Eamon Ryan to have a sit-down leaders’ meeting regarding a coalition government. After all, the combined Dáil seats of the Greens (12) plus those of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would create a majority government.
That is if the Greenies can avoid the fascinating and dreaded phenomenon that never ceases to haunt Irish politics, ‘The Split’! And who in their right minds wants that?