The votes needed for the historic government coalition are expected to go right down to the wire in the Green Party. Rifts between members have further come to the spotlight in the days since the Programme for Government was released, with senior party members both publicly supporting and trashing the document.
Three TDs are against the programme, along with vocal councillors and various chairs of regional groups, while leader Eamon Ryan and his deputy Catherine Martin have promoted the opportunity that would give the Greens a seat at the country’s highest table.
Green on Green war has begun in a party noted for the politeness of its members, and how they will vote this week remains to be seen. Members have held numerous teleconferences in the days since, with many now disappointed at the direction the debate has taken.
Yesterday, party finance spokesperson Neasa Hourigan who is against the Programme for Government, publicly criticised Senator Pippa Hackett on social media on Sunday after Ms Hackett claimed the Programme for Government provided for: “10,000 new social homes every year.”
Ms Hourigan tweeted to Ms Hackett that this was inaccurate, adding: “If the deal is good you should be able to portray it accurately. This kind of thing helps no one.”
Such debate between elected representatives is an insight into just how divided the party has become, while the serious distrust of the Civil War parties is even playing on the minds of those impressed by the document.
Those sitting on the fence about are debating at what point to walk away from government before they have even walked in.
“Where’s the line where we call it quits? It’ll come right down to the wire for the votes, people are torn,” a senior source said.”
Planning your divorce at your engagement party doesn’t bode well for your future, but Green Party members who have been burned by government before are not willing to give Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael the benefit of the doubt.
This division within the Green Party has not gone unnoticed by its negotiating partners either. Fianna Fáil sources say they were aware in negotiations for the Programme for Government the Greens would be torn.
“We’re not surprised at the split since the document was published, the Green Party has recruited an awful lot of young members, inspired by Greta Thunberg, and eco-socialists,” a Fianna Fáil source said.
“They wouldn’t be like the Greens a few years back. I admire them in one way, they debate everything, and they’re a very democratic party as well. I just hope they see the opportunity to influence the next government on climate change, it’ll happen anyway because it has to, but they should be part of it.”
Talks of torn up membership cards after the decision is taken or not taken should be taken with a great deal of salt, and although the party HQ is aware of their divided followers, are confident the tiff is only temporary.
The votes of the parties will be counted on June 26 in Dublin’s Convention Centre.