The Green Party says it does not feel there is a sense of urgency from other parties on climate during talks on government formation.
The party met with Fianna Fáil yesterday. Both parties brought a number of representatives to the meeting, which was mediated by an independent moderator, at the Green Party’s request, in keeping with Green Party protocol across Europe.
Green Party TD for Dublin Central Neasa Hourigan said although the talks were “positive and constructive”, they are weeks away from government discussions.
“We’re finding a lot of common ground, which we also found with our talks with Sinn Féin earlier this week,” she said.
“With Sinn Fein, we share the belief that housing is a right, with Fianna Fáil we had great discussions on education and special needs allocations, which is obviously important to me as a special needs parent.
“My point of view is that the climate will affect everything we do in government, from housing to transport. It’s not one issue for us.
“I’m not sure I’ve been swayed enough from these talks on either party, to be honest. The process has been excellent, the talks have been useful, I’ve learned a lot from the whole process, and we’re expanding our policy perspectives, but we’re far away from government foundation discussions.”
Fianna Fáil, which brought party representatives from a number of departments, said the meeting involved going through both manifestos, looking for common ground and shared policy objectives, but expects today’s meeting between the two will be more substantial on detail.
A two-thirds majority vote from Green Party members is required if any coalition is to go ahead, which could present a stumbling block for government foundation, especially among the party’s younger membership who will be intent on seeing climate policy implemented in full, which could spell difficulty in negotiations due to Fianna Fáil’s links to rural and farming constituencies.
Likewise, Sinn Féin’s objection to the carbon tax was also flagged as a potential issue during talks, with Mary Lou McDonald’s party intent on halting carbon tax increases “in the absence of viable alternatives”.
“The first thing we do when we enter government cannot be to throw out the small bit of progress we’ve made on implementing a carbon tax, so those areas of difference will be difficult,” said Ms Hourigan.
“The two-thirds majority will, of course, be an issue. Our members are very clued-in and they’re going to hold our feet to the fire.”
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said often during the general election campaign that he would be keen to form a government with Mr Ryan’s party, and it is understood that the Greens, along with support from Independent TDs, would be Mr Martin’s first preference in government partners.
The Green Party met with Sinn Féin on Monday and Tuesday, and is due to meet with Fine Gael next week for similar talks.