Green Party delegates vote to support Lisbon Treaty

 

Green Party delegates have voted by the narrowest of margins to back the Lisbon Treaty referendum campaign, following a 214 to 107 result at a specially-called conference in Dublin.

Party leader John Gormley said “it is a great result” for the party, and will allow it to "campaign vigorously” for a Yes result in the referendum to be put to the people on October 2nd.

Under the Green Party’s rules, major decisions require a two-thirds majority to become party policy, which was achieved today. Two members spoiled their votes, it emerged later.

Meanwhile, it emerged that the result of negotiations on the Programme for Government deal with Fianna Fáil will have to be put to another delegate conference in October – and, again, it will require a two-thirds majority to pass.

Paying tribute to all delegates, Mr Gormley singled out those who had advocated that the party oppose Lisbon: “We do respect and value your opinions. It is the diversity of views that makes this party strong.”

Delegates held two sessions today. The first dealt with a review of the party’s performance in government, while the second focused on the attitude it should take to Lisbon.

Two years ago, the Green leadership failed to persuade delegates to let the party campaign formally in favour of a Yes vote when they met at a conference in the Mansion House.

Today, Mr Gormley acknowledged that the result was close in the other direction. “It was extremely close, but I am obviously extremely pleased. It could not have been closer,” he told journalists.

During the meeting - which was held in private - Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan made a passionate appeal to party members to back Lisbon, “for the sake of all of us, and of our children”.

Questioned about the Programme for Government negotiations, Mr Gormley said while delegates had not laid down “red-lines” on particular issues, “there were concerns expressed about a number of areas”. In particular, the Greens will demand that a Climate Change Bill is passed by the Oireachtas by the end of the year, which could have major impacts on everything from transport to housing policies.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan have both recently told the Dáil that such legislation is not on the Governments “this side of Christmas”.

However, Mr Gormley made it clear that the Greens will demand that speedy action on this legislation is a core part of the Programme for Government re-negotiation: “Watch this space,” he declared.

Questioned about the decision of Green Party senators not to back Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern’s criminal justice legislation in the Seanad last week, Mr Gormley said delegates had supported their action.

The party’s chairman, Senator Dan Boyle – one of the two party senators to abstain on that vote – said there has been a perception that “we don’t challenge” Fianna Fáil sufficiently in government.

The perception is incorrect, he said, adding: “We have allowed a perception to get out that we don’t challenge. But it has happened, and it will happen again."