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Eamon Ryan rejects call from NI counterpart to renegotiate draft programme for government

Clare Bailey had originally abstained when the Greens’ parliamentary team voted on the blueprint agreed with Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

Eamon Ryan and Clare Bailey
Eamon Ryan and Clare Bailey
Image: PA Images

Updated Jun 21st 2020, 6:45 PM

GREEN PARTY LEADER Eamon Ryan has rejected a call from his Northern Ireland counterpart to renegotiate the draft programme for government. 

Ryan said it would not be possible to change the terms of the blueprint.

Clare Bailey, a Stormont Assembly member and Northern Ireland’s Green Party leader, had originally abstained when the Greens’ parliamentary team voted on the blueprint agreed with Fine Gael and Fianna Fail last week.

Bailey has now joined the three Green TDs who are opposed to the deal – Francis Duffy, Patrick Costello, Neasa Hourigan – and a number of other prominent members to make a statement opposing the programme, among them party chair and Dublin city councillor Hazel Chu.

“As Green Party elected representatives and members from across this island, we believe that this draft programme for government represents an unjust recovery,” they stated.

“That’s why we will vote no on this draft programme for government.

“This offer of government represents one of the most fiscally conservative arrangements in a generation. Regressive taxation in the form of carbon and sugar taxes are included while corporation tax and the top rate of income tax remain unchanged.

It’s a deal that was negotiated in good faith but fails to deliver on our promise to tackle homelessness and provide better healthcare. It sets out an inadequate and vague pathway towards climate action.

“A better deal is possible – voting no on this programme for government is a step towards securing that better deal.”

Bailey, who said the most vulnerable would worst hit by the deal, urged her party to try to push for changes.

“What I believe at the minute is that we can build back a better deal,” she told BBC NI’s Sunday Politics show.

“I don’t think that’s it’s this deal or nothing. I think there are other options that need to be explored.

“So we can have another deal, we can review this deal, we can push it a wee bit further, we can talk to other parties. So it’s not one or the other.”

Responding to the suggestion, Ryan said there was no room to secure changes at this stage.

He told RTÉ Radio One: “I don’t believe it would be possible or in the national interest to go into another prolonged negotiation process.”

The Green Party has the highest threshold of the three parties to secure the approval of its membership.

Two-thirds of members registered to vote on the proposals ahead of next Friday must back the deal.

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Just 195 of the Greens’ 800 members north of the border have registered to vote on the draft programme for government.

Bailey denied this was due to a feeling that it was not the business of northern members to get involved in politics south of the border.

She said she would support the party whatever the result of the vote.

“If it’s ratified and if we do go into government, I am 100% committed to the Green Party and I will stand by my party,” she said.

“And I will support them and we will move forward together because this should not break us as a party. We need to be stronger than that.”

The eight people to sign the statement of opposition are Bailey, Duffy, Costello, Hourigan, Chu, councillor Lorna Brogue and 2020 general election candidates Sean McCabe and Saoirse McHugh.

With reporting by Press Association

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