Greens eye further talks with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael

Divisions remain in party about entering negotiations on government formation

The Green Party met to discuss the text of a letter outlining its response of the two bigger parties.

The Green Party met to discuss the text of a letter outlining its response of the two bigger parties.

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A majority of the Green Party’s TDs, Senators and MEPs are understood to be in favour of further engagement with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, but strong divisions remain among the group of 16 about entering negotiations on government formation.

The parliamentary party met for a second day on Thursday by teleconference to discuss the text of a letter outlining the response of the two bigger parties to 17 “asks” of the Green Party.

The response of the parliamentary party was describe as “quite warm” to the letter, particularly the positive language in the two crucial areas of emissions targets and sustainable transport.

While neither Taoiseach Leo Varadkar nor Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin specifically committed in their joint letter to the Green’s “red line” demands of a 7 per cent annual reduction in emissions, or to a pivot in the transport budget to buses, trains, cycling and walking, they suggested they would be willing to listen to ways of reaching those targets. A factor that was received as important was the positive response from the Stop Climate Chaos group of environmental campaigners.

The 12 Green TDs, as well as its two Senators and two MEPs, spent most of Thursday morning in video-conferences discussing the letter. An analysis by The Irish Times suggested that the bigger parties assented to the Greens’ “asks” on 10 of the issues, and queried or rejected only seven.

The parliamentary party, as well as the Greens’ wider membership, has been divided on the question of going into power with the two parties who have controlled government since the foundation of the State. However, a majority of the parliamentary party is understood to favour further talks with the two larger parties on government formation.

Doubts

Those who have expressed doubts about entering coalition negotiations have argued, among other things, around trust, implementation, a lack of conviction on radical action on climate change, and the belief the two larger parties will follow market-based, rather than social-based, solutions to the recovery.

The party is expected to respond to the letter on Friday, most probably with an indication that party leader Eamon Ryan is willing to hold face-to-face talks with Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin on possible government negotiations.

Separately, a Social Democrats’ spokeswoman said it had yet to receive a response from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael on a second letter it sent to both parties asking for details and clarification on the framework document it published a fortnight ago.

The letter was delivered on Saturday evening and there has been no contact since then. “We will wait to see what response the parties come back to us with. And then we will decide if there are any grounds for engaging,” said the spokeswoman.

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