Green Party TDs accept 'struggle' to get deal ratified by membership

Green TDs have embarked on a programme of engagement to have the draft deal for government ratified by their members.
Green Party TDs accept 'struggle' to get deal ratified by membership
The Green Party's new TDs: charged with selling a programme for government to a divided grassroots.

Additional reporting: Liz Dunphy

Green TDs have embarked on a programme of engagement to have the draft deal for government ratified by their members.

Some of the party's 12 TDs took to social media to voice their support for the document yesterday and will begin outreach with members over the coming days to discuss the document in detail.

The Green Party accepts they will have an uphill battle to have the programme for government ratified, with a two-thirds majority required from more than 3,200 members. A yes vote would see them enter a coalition government with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

Sources within the party say it's too early to tell how the deal will fare with members, due to the broad church of views within the membership. However, a majority of the parliamentary officials remain hopeful they can get it over the line.

Members are still digesting the 125-page document published on Monday, with the more vocal of both sides of the yes/no argument appearing in the media in the time since. Former MEP and TD candidate, Saoirse McHugh, stated publicly on Tuesday she would not be voting for the deal, criticising its "woolly language" and describing the deal as "fudge-y".

Cork’s Green Party councillors are divided on the issue, negotiated and backed by leadership contender, Catherine Martin.

To support it or not is still “the million-dollar question” for Councillor Lorna Bogue: “I went through it with my councillor’s hat on and it didn’t really stand up for me or my constituents. There’s no commitment to a Cork Luas, there’s no commitment to ending incineration.

"Micheál Martin may be Taoiseach, Simon Coveney and Michael McGrath will presumably have senior positions, I was expecting with those kind of voices at the table that the Cork Luas would be put through as an infrastructure project that would act as a stimulus but it’s not there," she said.

"I think Catherine Martin has done a really good job with negotiating it. You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. She brought Fine Gael and Fianna Fail as far as they would go.

"It’s for us as a party now to decide, is that enough?"

However fellow Cork Green Party Councillor Dan Boyle has come out in support of the deal: "My personal philosophy is that when the opportunity to enter government exists, you should take it. But it's in the lap of the Gods now. The talks are getting hot and heavy."

Major concerns have been flagged among some members that the consistent mention of "deficit reduction" will mean austerity measures, with Fine Gael at the helm of the Department of Finance and in charge of the budget.

More members, however, are undecided and are weighing up the risks.

Harry McEvansoneya, the secretary of the party’s policy council, says there is no predicting how the membership will vote.

"There are a lot of people who don't publicise their views and will consider the contents of the document as a whole, and make an informed decision, weighing the risks."

"For me, what's been symptomatic of the document, is it doesn't lay out timelines or commitments or explain how things will be done.

"Personally, the major concern is, these are things that will affect people's lives, will the good we bring outweigh the harm we might have to compromise on? It will all down to what's best for people, social justice can't be extracted from environmental justice."

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