Even though their 2007 coalition with the Soldiers of Destiny was likened to doing a deal with the devil!
AH, the Greenies, don’tcha love ‘em! Part of an extended family of naïve idealists, to which Britain’s Official Monster Raving Loony Party is related, the Green Party (Ireland) is too seriously uptight to poke fun at anyone, unlike the Looney Party which exists only to satirise British politics and politicians!
But, that’s not to say Irish Greenies are without a sense of humour. In their own quiet way, they can produce an auld chuckle or two when they excitedly promote lofty political aspirations such as ecological wisdom, grassroots democracy, respect for diversity, centralised political decision-making, world peace, same sex marriage, abortion and euthanasia!
To their political credit, they now hold 12 Dáil seats, two Seanad seats and two seats in Brussels at the European Parliament. No mean feat!
Importantly, Greenies are not squeamish about sharing power with the Soldiers of Destiny! They did so after the 2007 general election, having campaigned on an independent platform and despite Ciarán Cuffe, TD, declaring that a deal with Fianna Fáil would be a deal with the devil.
That joke fell flat after the electorate tired of Greenie antics in government and, in the 2011 general election, all six TDs were given the bum’s rush.
In the 2016 general election, the party only won two seats, but this year they bounced back when, to the astonishment of all, 12 Greenie TDs were returned to the Dáil to become the fourth-largest party in Ireland.
But what gets up the couch-potato’s nostrils and incites him/her to fire his clogs at the TV is the endless, meandering, long-winded, introspective debates between members of the Green Party and RTÉ political ‘commentators.’ Generally the discussions centre on the question as to whether the party should enter into coalition with Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil and help form a working government.
Fact is people really don’t give two hoots about interminable Greenie navel gazing and whether or not the party is having ‘tense’ internal discussions ‘at the highest level.’ We all know that Greenies will join in with anybody if the political inducements look attractive; with Fianna Fáil, the Blueshirts and Uncle Tom Cobley.
They’ve done so before, although their action seemed horribly similar to Falstaff’s treatment of recruits in Prince Henry’s army. It was based on the premise that they would ‘fill a pit as well as better.’ In other words, Greenies ended up as cannon fodder for the government Big Lads.
On this occasion, however, some Green TDs threatened they might become independents if coalition was on the cards and they warned that sharing government with an arch-conservative party, such as Fine Gael, would split the party.
Particularly when, earlier this month, reports were leaked concerning tense discussions between the Greens and the government over demands for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions!
Greenies are insisting on a 7% annual cut to which Tánaiste Coveney responded in his usual charming and polished way. He commented that it certainly was an idea worth looking at but, sadly, out of the question lest it ‘decimate rural Ireland.’ In other words, Coveney’s message was simple: No attacks of the farmers and dat’s dat! And lads, give us a break, will ya?
The save-the-planet people were nonplussed, reminding Blueshirts that involvement in any coalition would require the support of two-thirds of Green voting membership which, theoretically, might be difficult to get should a dose of bad feelings break out.
At the same time, Greenies made it known that, if push came to shove, they were prepared to withdraw from negotiations regarding government and pursue their mandate in Opposition.
‘Oh yeah!’ sighed the plain people of Ireland who heard all that guff before.
Green versus Green
In the meantime, particularly concerned are mainstream Deputies from rural constituencies who fear the impact that the Greens will have on the way things are in rural Ireland. They are not enamoured at the prospect of their lifestyle being radically changed as a consequence of the 7% emissions target. Indeed, Coveney bluntly told Greenies that he would rather risk another election than decimate rural Ireland with such a policy.
(Fianna Fail’s Galway TD, Eamon Ó Cuiv, pointed to the Green Party’s illogical opposition to the planned by-pass of Galway city and accused them of ‘putting the boot in’).
Nonetheless, Eamon Ryan, the Green leader, believes he can do a deal with Fine Gael
despite the Green party itself appearing unsure as to whether it should form part of a FG government. Indeed, a Green Party meeting last month, at which the topic was discussed, was said to be an irate affair and marked by ‘a lot of bad temper.’
Ironically, efforts to form a government are becoming bogged down even before negotiations properly start and, to make matters worse, reports are circulating that Eamon Ryan’s leadership has been called into question.
Yet, it would be a mistake for the Greens to ignore the growing opposition to their climate policies and the ‘disastrous’ impact they might have on Irish farming.
And then, there’s always the possibility of a ‘split’! Up to now, Greenies have been on an electoral high, but will coalition with FF and FG stymie the growth in numbers? For that matter, can any of what the Greens call the ‘Civil War parties’ be trusted?
But, leaving aside Greenie politicking and despite the inevitable snigger or two, references to a possible ‘split’ in the Green Party over support for a FF-FG coalition deal have caught the punters’ attention.
(The ‘Split,’ as we all know, is a characteristic of Irish politics, and the possibility of it happening to the Greenies puts the party right up there in the pantheon of Irish political parties: alongside Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Fine Gael, which all came into existence because of a ‘split’!)
Brendan Behan described the ‘Split’ as the first item on the agenda of most Irish political parties. However, in the case of the Greenies, rumours of a possible ‘split’ might well have something to do with the party’s branching out into areas other than climate.
Nonetheless, its new-found popularity gives the lie to the old sneer that a vote for the Green Party was a waste of a piece of paper. In other words, gone is the perception that voting for Greenies was an utterly useless activity.
And so, what if the Greens sometimes are perceived as little more than disillusioned Labour voters? Indeed, many Labourites are secret fundamentalist Greenies. (Such people sometimes are referred to as the ‘Fundi’ – those who adhere to a fundamentalist ideology of green values, such as veganism, animal rights, and a decentralised organisation for the party).
Which reminds us of a Green joke.
Can we tell it?
Because it’s been recycled