Greens must be ‘prepared’ to enter coalition government

Published by Kayle Crosson on

July 15th, 2019

The Green Party must be “open and prepared” to enter government after the next election, party leader Eamon Ryan has said.

Speaking at the party convention this weekend, Mr Ryan highlighted the environmental challenges the country faces and the unprecedented changes needed to meet them.

“The scale and speed of change we need to make is so great that we need to make sure that at least the next five governments in a row bought into taking real climate action,” he said in his address. 

“We shall not make the leap we need to make if we allow this to become a politically divisive issue.” 

Mr Ryan spoke just hours after a non-binding motion on ruling out a coalition with Fianna Fail, Fine Gael or right-wing parties was defeated by party members. 

Newly elected Green Party Cork Councillor Lorna Bogue put forward the motion, stating in her proposal that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael were standing in the party’s way of progressive measures. 

“It’s time for us as a party to recognize them for what they are,” Ms Bogue said. “They are the past. The right wing is the past. We are the future and I’m asking you to stand with me.” 

In his reply, Mr Ryan stressed that one of the ways the party could introduce Ms Bogue’s aforementioned progressive measures is “by getting into government”. 

“By ruling people out I think we’ll be ruling ourselves out possibly, but worse than that we’ll be stepping away from the inclusive politics we need,” he said. 

Green Party Convention 2019 Photo: Kayle Crosson
Green Party Convention 2019 Photo: Kayle Crosson

Former MEP Candidate for Midlands-North-West Saoirse McHugh spoke in favour of Ms Bogue’s proposal, telling The Green News that she felt the country’s two largest parties had “absolutely no appetite” for the type of change needed. 

“We’d be selling out for a couple of bike lanes and a couple of Ministerial roles,” Ms McHugh said. “And if we go in and get destroyed like how we were 10 years ago now or less, then once again we set back the political wing of the environmental movement another 10 years.” 

The Green Party entered into a ruling coalition government with Fianna Fail in 2007, and after the 2011 election, lost all six of its seats in the Dail. Most recently, the Party had a stand-out performance in the local and European elections, securing two MEP seats and 49 local seats. 

“People this time voted for us because they wanted something different. If they wanted Fianna Fail and Fine Gael again, they would have voted for them again,” Ms McHugh said. 

But, whether the motion passed or failed, Ms McHugh said that it’s a conversation the party should engage in. “It’s more about getting the discussion started and getting people thinking about it.”

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Kayle Crosson

Kayle is a multimedia journalist focused on climate and environmental issues and contributes to The Irish Times and The Green News.