Green Party enters final stages of intense debate on entering government

Mark Ruffalo speaks during event organised by pro-coalition party members

 Green Party leader Eamon Ryan is in favour of the party entering government. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan is in favour of the party entering government. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

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Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo has made a late intervention in the intense and close-fought Green Party debate on entering coalition government.

The Oscar-nominated actor is a prominent anti-fracking campaigner in the US and has strongly backed the proposed programme for government on the basis of its anti-fracking commitments and removal of State support for a controversial liquefied natural gas (LNG) project on the Shannon Estuary.

Mr Ruffalo, who received Oscar nominations for his performances in Spotlight and Foxcatcher, spoke during an online live seminar organised by pro-coalition Greens on Monday night.The event also included contributions from party leader Eamon Ryan and deputy leader Catherine Martin.

Fracking and the LNG plant have been key issues for a significant cohort of Green Party members. Mr Ruffalo asked those who believed the programme did not go far enough on these issues to be patient.

“Don’t fret about [not] getting everything you want at the moment. This is a movement. This is a long journey forward. Any win is a win for us in the long term. Calm down. Do what’s right for right now,” he said.

Final stages

It came as the internal debate in the party over coalition reached its final stages. It was said to be delicately poised between the Yes and No camps. Many party members have already posted their votes on the issue, ahead of the count on Friday. Leading figures on both sides were involved in intensive campaigns over the weekend, making thousands of telephone calls. Twenty rural councillors and all seven of the party’s parliamentarians from outside Dublin have pledged their support for the programme. Six of the 10 of the party’s representatives in the North publicly oppose it. The party’s TDs expressed mixed views in private, with some confident of support of more than 70 per cent of the party for coalition, with others saying it will be very tight.

Earlier Tánaiste Simon Coveney said nothing could be ruled out in the event of the failure of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Greens to agree a coalition, including a second general election this year. Within Fianna Fáil, there have been some suggestions made by individual TDs of alternative arrangements, including with Sinn Féin. But that would necessitate a difficult change in leadership.

Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin said the contention that there was no other alternative to the proposed programme for government was being pushed dishonestly to put pressure on Green members to accept a “bad deal”.