Greens want other parties to ‘woman up’ and get on with government talks

Ryan says party will speak to Sinn Féin but left-leaning coalition would be unlikely to last

Green Party leader Eamonn Ryan is pictured at Leinster House with the party’s 11 other TDs and its Senator on Tuesday. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

Green Party leader Eamonn Ryan is pictured at Leinster House with the party’s 11 other TDs and its Senator on Tuesday. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

 

Coalition formation talks should take weeks not months Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said, as his deputy Catherine Martin called on other parties to “woman up” and get on with the process.

Mr Ryan also confirmed that he hoped his colleagues would nominate him for taoiseach and would not be nominating a candidate for the position of Ceann Comhairle when the 33rd Dáil sits on Thursday for the first time.

The Dublin Bay South TD was speaking as his newly enlarged parliamentary party of 12 TDs, up from three when the Dáil was dissolved last month, and a Senator met at Leinster House.

He said he and Ms Martin were there in 2016 when it took three months to form a coalition after an inconclusive election result.

“I don’t think it should be months. I think it’s more a matter of weeks,” he said of the process this time around. “We shouldn’t rush it. To get it right may take time and we’re taking a lot of experience from our continental colleagues, who particularly have done this many times with multilateral talks.”

Mr Ryan said a bilateral process of talks helps and informed all the parties of what they want to do.

“It’s still several weeks if you were negotiating a programme for government to get the level of detail that you need. It’s several weeks, it’s not days but it shouldn’t be months because there is a job to do and we should get on with it.”

Useful

Mr Ryan said the Greens want to talk in detail with each party about policies and how to meet targets on reducing the impact of climate change. He said that process is useful “no matter where people end up whether in opposition or in government”.

He confirmed the party’s red line issues included a 7 per cent annual reduction in carbon emissions as well as massive investment in public transport, public and cost-rental housing, retrofitting and change in “how we do energy”.

The Green Party is in continuing contact with Sinn Féin about setting up a first meeting to discuss their priorities for being in government but Mr Ryan acknowledged that it would be difficult to get a stable left-wing government in place.

“It will take three or four years to do anything not two or three months. But how such a government could last more than three months is hard to see.”

Ms Martin said a lot of weeks were wasted after the election in 2016 and people were getting very frustrated with the political system.

“We’re trying to get the other parties, I used the phrase at the weekend, to ‘woman up’ and sit down with each other,” Ms Martin said. “I’d love if we could stop another two weeks of this toying around with ‘will you or won’t you’.”

Dance

She referenced comments by Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae, who said the process was like being in the dance hall, and said “no one will come into the middle and actually ask someone to dance”.

Mr Ryan said he believed a confidence and supply arrangement, as was implemented after the 2016 general election, was unlikely to be revisited this time.

He also said it was Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s prerogative to say that he wanted to lead his party into opposition.

“I think we should be careful about this process,” he added. “The last week has been just going around in circles, where people are not really getting down to the detail.”

New Green voices - Three of party’s 10 newcomers give their take on arriving in Leinster House:

Francis Noel Duffy (Dublin South-West)

“It’s very exciting just to be in here. I’ve been involved in politics for quite a while. It’s hard to believe to be honest. It seems like it’s happened really quickly, albeit I’ve been batting away for years.

“I joined in 2007 but would have been involved with my Dad way before that in the 1980s.....I suppose always aspiring to get something and eventually getting there 30 odd years later. It’s hard to believe but very exciting having the possibility to effect change.

“I felt you could do that at local level although it was difficult and I’m hoping it can be repeated at this level, but we will see.”

Neasa Hourigan (Dublin Central)

“It’s a bit of a culture shock. I’ve been at home as a carer for the last few years. Once upon a time I was a lecturer but I gave it up because my little girl has a disability and so I’ve been really ensconced in the home place since 2016 and then I was elected to Dublin City Council in May.

“So this is an upward trajectory, it’s happened fast. But at the moment we’re obsessing about policy and it suits me very well because I’m chair of policy and that’s what I like to do.

“It’s just a bit crazy to be here to be honest with you, to be walking in and the clerk says ‘Hello Deputy’. That’s a trip.”

Patrick Costello (Dublin South-Central)

“It’s a great privilege to be here. I’m in the interesting position that I’m still working out my notice in my previous job so I’m working two jobs at the minute. I’m a child protection social worker. I’ve been involved in the party for a while, in policy for a while, helping out with the party.

“It’s not necessarily brand new. It’s not quite that feeling of being starstruck but I am conscious of the history and privilege of being part of this building. I joined the Green Party in maybe late 2007. I then ran in 2014 for the local elections and have been on the city council since then.

“I have experience in dealing with the party, the policy, the workings of Leinster House.”