Aoife Moore: Campaigning on Ceta has come back to haunt Greens

A High Court challenge over the constitutionality of Ceta by a Green Party TD is yet more proof the leadership can't get its TDs in line
Aoife Moore: Campaigning on Ceta has come back to haunt Greens

Happier days: Neasa Hourigan and Eamon Ryan at the party's general election manifesto launch in January 2020. Picture: Caroline Quinn/PA Wire

If there was ever a perfect illustration of the state of the Green parliamentary party, it's the fact that Eamon Ryan wasn't present at the meeting when one of his own TDs informed the rest of the party that he was taking the Government, in which they all sit, to court.

The bold Patrick Costello has taken up the mantle from the bold Neasa Hourigan as the newest pain in the neck for the three-headed Government.

A High Court challenge over the constitutionality of Ceta is unwelcome for a Government eager to have it passed and yet more proof the Green Party leadership can't get its TDs in line.

Even those who study the Green Party closely did not see this particular development coming, and neither did the party leadership, but what they haven't seen coming in their own party could fill a filing cabinet.

Sources say Mr Ryan has barely attended parliamentary party meetings in recent months, with Brian Leddin chairing the Zoom meetings, which one can only assume make Handsforth Parish Council look like Butlins.

All the woes of the Greens have been laid out already, not least by this newspaper, so all the previous issues that got the Greens to this place still stand – rapid membership growth without agreeing what the party actually stood for, a naivety about government, paired with the lack of party infrastructure and willingness from leadership to deal with issues when they arose have all contributed to the sorry state of affairs which increasingly mirrors the last time the Greens propped up a deeply unpopular government.

The fish rots from the head and like every other rake that slaps the Green Party in the face, it could probably be avoided with some leadership and some sensible debate.

Patrick Costello is on the record along with Neasa Hourigan that he won't vote for Ceta and both expect to be suspended by the party if they defy the whip. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Patrick Costello is on the record along with Neasa Hourigan that he won't vote for Ceta and both expect to be suspended by the party if they defy the whip. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Like all cruel ironies, the fact the Greens campaigned so forcefully and so passionately against Ceta is probably one of the reasons Irish climate change activists are so well-read on the issue and so set against it.

"The way it was conducted, the way it was negotiated, the way that it was really centred around lobbying by big corporate interests rather than the public interest is wrong," said the Eamon Ryan of the past, a ministerial position barely a twinkle in his eye.

Nothing stings like a mess of your own making, which is probably why Eamon Ryan avoids parliamentary party meetings.

Having to U-turn is part and parcel of government but one should expect to at least go down with a fight and if Eamon Ryan won't get into the ring, Patrick Costello clearly thinks he ought to.

One could argue that Mr Costello knows his time in the party is limited anyway – he's on the record along with Ms Hourigan that he won't vote for Ceta and both expect to be suspended by the party if they defy the whip, so a High Court challenge on your way out doesn't seem so outlandish.

Those who previously voted for the Green Party because of their left-leaning credentials will have turned their back on the party already, and those who respect the Greens for their efforts in Government won't be inclined to vote for the TDs who cause such ruckus.

This jaunt to the High court might be the last kick of a dead horse for any fight that's left in the Greens.

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