Greens want more information on ‘remarkably vague’ FF-FG document

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are hoping to lure in the Greens

 Green Party leader Eamon Ryan outside Leinster House on Thursday. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan outside Leinster House on Thursday. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

 

The Green Party is to seek further information from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil about the contents of their joint policy framework over concerns that the document is too vague.

Green Party TDs held a parliamentary party meeting on Thursday morning to discuss the new framework.

Party leader Eamon Ryan said he wanted to see targets set for a reduction in emissions and more specific detail around housing. He said the party will not “rush in” to negotiations on a programme for government

“How many houses, where, what type of houses, how much cost rental, how much social housing, that kind of detail is going to be needed,” Mr Ryan said.

“What is the detail behind the aspiration. In some cases that can be hard with the economic situation being uncertain but something like climate, that seven per cent target, we know that is what the scientists say we have to do, we know we agreed it in the climate committee. Let’s be ambitious and precise and clear.”

“The document is vague on details and will require a lot more work. I do not think that will the negotiating document, I think that will come later.”

Mr Ryan said that the job in politics is “to work with people and to aim high together.”

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are hoping to lure in the Greens, independents and smaller parties to increase their Dail numbers from 72 as a majority of 80 is needed. The Green Party has 12 TDs.

On the idea of a national unity Government, Mr Ryan admitted that he was not getting a positive response from other parties. “That forces us to look at other options of course.”

Dublin Rathdown TD Catherine Martin said the document presented is “remarkably vague and we would be seeing clarity on a variety of issues before we would consider entering talks.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, meanwhile, has refused to be drawn on whether he or Leo Varadkar will be Taoiseach of the next government.

The two parties signed off on a joint framework document on Wednesday that will be given to smaller parties this week in a bid to convince them to join a coalition government with them.

Mr Martin said he and Mr Varadkar have a broad understanding on a range of issues and have respect for each other.

When asked who would get to be Taoiseach in the next government, Mr Martin refused to be drawn and said there is no agreement between them.

Speaking to RTÉ radio, he said: “We have a broad understanding on a whole range of issues and the more fundamental one being the philosophy and orientation of the government and the orientation it should take. Those issues... we will approach when we see there is prospect of a government being formed.”

When pressed on who would get to be Taoiseach first, he said: “We have a broad understanding on many issues... I’m not going any further than that. It is not about personalities, it is about the content and subject matter of the programme for government.

“Can we get a significant majority of people in Dáil Éireann behind a coherent programme for government that can take us through this emergency and enable the country to recover?

“The Dáil is more fragmented than it has ever been historically and that demands that people have to engage and have an obligation to form a government. The country needs a government.

“We are in extraordinary times, people are very worried out there and they are very concerned about their health, jobs, incomes and mortgages. In my view that means that we need a solution to try and take the country through.”

When asked if the smaller parties refuse to go into coalition with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, he would consider a national government, he said: “A national government becomes an internal auction process very quickly and becomes a recipe for indecision and lack of coherence. Nothing has changed my mind on that.”

Mr Martin said it is not feasible to hold a postal vote to allow members to vote on whether a deal between his party and Fine Gael should form a coalition.

Under Fianna Fáil party rules, it has to hold a special ard fheis of its 20,000 party members to approve going into a coalition.

Mr Martin said a third party is needed to complete the government but the deal must also be voted through by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil grassroots party membership.

“That presents challenges giving the prevalence of Covid-19 emergency but we will be engaging with all levels of the party and consulting with all levels of the party. We have already been doing that. Our councillors have been given a copy of the document and I have been speaking to every single councillor in the country.

Asked if there will be a postal vote for members, he said: “That’s very challenging. We don’t think that is feasible at this stage but we are looking and trying to devise other ways.

“Covid-19 rules out large gatherings so that is something that is exercising us at the moment.” - Additional Reporting PA

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