Green Party to debate whether it should join a coalition government

Party’s success in European elections could see it win up to 12 seats in general election

Green Party member Saoirse McHugh, a candidate in the European elections,  has said she would leave the party if it entered coalition with Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. Photograph: Michael McLaughlin

Green Party member Saoirse McHugh, a candidate in the European elections, has said she would leave the party if it entered coalition with Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. Photograph: Michael McLaughlin

 

The Green Party will hold its first major debate on joining a coalition government after the general election, when its national convention opens on Saturday.

All 400 places for the convention at Dublin’s Law Society have been taken up, and organisers say they could easily have had 200 more delegates if accommodation was available.

The venue was booked ahead of the local and European elections in June when the party quadrupled its number of county councillors to 49 and saw two of its three candidates elected to the European Parliament.

While Greens leader Eamon Ryan favours entering coalition government, there is a section of his party which opposes any arrangement with either of the two major parties.

A motion from the UCC branch proposes a rejection of any “right-wing parties”. That includes Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael “or any party whose values or policies conflict with the Green Party”.

In setting out the rationale, the UCC branch says the coalition with Fianna Fáil between 2007 and 2010 led to an “electoral collapse”.

‘No green voice’

It said the subsequent period, when the party had no national representatives and no national funding, resulted in “no green voice in Irish politics . . . Both major parties have shown their inability to follow through on electoral promises on climate change with solid policies is actively damaging to the environment.”

The Mayo branch has also tabled a motion calling on the party to identify itself as explicitly anti-capitalist. “Capitalism is incompatible with the survival of the majority of the life of the planet,” it states.

Mayo member Saoirse McHugh, a candidate in the European elections, has said she would leave the party if it entered coalition with Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.

Another motion calls for a ban on private jets. ‘The Green Party cannot support the lifestyle of the super-wealthy’

Based on the results of both elections in May, the party appears poised to win anywhere between six and 12 seats in the next general election, mainly in Dublin. It also has prospects in Cork, Wicklow, North Kildare, Cork, Galway, Louth and Waterford.

‘Degrowth’

While the motions rejecting coalition will be opposed, there will be strong support for another key motion. It proposes rejecting the use of measurements such as economic growth and GDP and instead using “degrowth” or a “steady state economy”.

Another motion also calls for a ban on private jets. “The Green Party cannot support the lifestyle of the super-wealthy and therefore calls for non-diplomatic private jets to be denied permission to enter Irish airspace,” it states.

Mr Ryan and deputy leader Catherine Martin will deliver the keynote addresses on Saturday evening.

Mr Ryan is likely to set out his thinking on the party entering government after the next election. He is likely to refer to Green parties elsewhere in Europe opting for inclusion, rather than exclusion, in order to tackle the urgent issues caused by climate change.