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Green Party leader Eamon Ryan doesn't see the numbers on the left for 'a stable government'

Ryan says a government is needed that will last for ‘three or four years’.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

GREEN PARTY LEADER Eamon Ryan has said he doesn’t feel there are sufficient numbers for a “stable government” of left-leaning coalition partners.

Speaking at Leinster House this morning alongside 11 other newly elected Green TDs, Ryan said he is not ruling anything out but that Ireland’s next government must be able to remain in power for a number of years. 

Ryan met with Richard Boyd Barrett yesterday after which the Solidarity-People Before Profit TD urged the Green Party not to “prop up a government of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael”.

Barrett urged the Greens to instead look towards “the possibility of a left government”. 

Speaking today however, Ryan expressed skepticism about whether the Dáil numbers were there to deliver such a government. 

“We met our socialist colleagues and had a very good conversation with them and we listen and work with all sides. And we have a lot in common. But the reality is, if you look at the numbers, it’s hard to see how you get a stable government,” Ryan said.

One of the things I said to Richard and Paul and Mick yesterday was that it takes three or four years to do anything, to really get change. It doesn’t happen in three weeks or three months. So how would such a government survive more than three months? It’s hard to see, but I don’t think we should rule anything out.

“We said to them that we would happily talk to them further as well, treating everyone with equal respect, which is going back to what we said we would do,” he added. 

4240 Green Party The Green Party's parliamentary party in Leinster House today. Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

While government formation talks are at an early stage, one coalition combination that has been suggested is one involving Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party. Such a coalition would have 84 of the 160 seats in the Dáil. 

Ryan said he spoke to Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar for more than an hour last week and that he also spoke with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald

Ryan said that parties have been “going round in circles” over the past week and that it is time for policy meetings to begin. 

Party deputy leader Catherine Martin TD also said that parties should “speak to everyone” and “sit down with each other”.

“I’d love if we could stop another two weeks of just toying around with ‘Will you, won’t you’,” she added.  

For the Green Party to enter into a government coalition, the move would have to achieve a two-thirds majority among its members. 

New Green TD Neasa Hourigan said that she didn’t believe members were yet thinking about any potential coalition.

“I don’t think our party membership is focusing their interest on what Fianna Fáil might or might not do or what Fine Gael might or might not do, or in fact what Sinn Fein might or might not do. We are in fact genuinely trying to work on the policy issues because they are so far-reaching and they are going to touch every sector,” she said. 

Confidence and supply

Ryan was also asked if he had discussed with Varadkar whether or not a confidence and supply arrangement could form the basis of the country’s next government. 

Varadkar had stated before the election that his party would consider facilitating a Fianna Fáil-led minority government from the opposition benches but this suggestion has cooled since the 8 February vote. 

Ryan said he thinks another confidence and supply arrangement is “highly unlikely” this time around. 

“My sense is that I don’t think confidence and supply, that was a mechanism we came up with last time, because the numbers were very difficult and it actually helped us get over the numbers problem. I don’t think we’re in the same position this time. And for a variety of reasons I would be very surprised if there was a confidence supply arrangement at the end of this. I think it’s highly unlikely,” he said. 

Ryan also confirmed that his party would not be putting anyone forward to be Ceann Comhairle in the 33rd Dáil and that its TDs would wait to see who is nominated before deciding who they will vote for. 

The new Dáil meets for the first time on Thursday and its first order of business will be to elect a Ceann Comhairle.

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Rónán Duffy

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