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Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party parliamentary members endorse programme for government

The Green Party have voted in favour of the proposed programme for government but there have been four abstentions.

THE GREEN PARTY’S parliamentary members have voted in favour of the proposed programme for government but there have been four abstentions. 

The party’s deputy leader Catherine Martin backed the deal, and in a statement after tonight’s meeting said there was never going to be, nor could there have been, outright winners in the negotiations.

She acknowledged that the Green Party did not get everything they asked for in the programme for government, but said she is satisfied with what has been achieved.

There were four abstentions at the Green Party parliamentary party meeting this evening: Neasa Hourigan TD, Francis Noel Duffy TD, Patrick Costello TD and Clare Bailey MLA. There were nine votes in favour of the deal. 

The programme for government will now be referred to the party membership for ratification.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has a tough battle on his hands in terms of getting the members to back the deal.

Party rules demands a 66% endorsement from its 2000-strong membership that are permitted to cast their vote.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said today that ultimately the decision to back the deal is up to each member, but he is hopeful that the party will support it.

The deputy leader, who is vying for Ryan’s job, backing the deal will add some weight behind the deal getting through. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live this evening, chairperson of the Green Party Hazel Chu said:

“We are at the cusp of an unprecedented time where we are post Covid, we could get a second wave and we need to have a government that’s stable, but that also works. And that is the key question of whether this programme for government will fully work.

“I don’t think we got everything. I think we definitely got some key wins. I have to say our negotiation team especially worked so hard on it and they worked really hard, but there are gaps as with everything. There will always be gaps and we knew there were going to be gaps.

“Now the question is, are the wins good enough? But again with programmes for governments, that they’re on paper. They’re like written words on paper. It’s looking at it objectively and seeing whether those items can be applied and can be delivered.”

fianna Fail 82 Micheál Martin speaking after his parliamentary party meeting in the Convention Centre in Dublin this evening.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael also held parliamentary party meetings this evening. 

Fianna Fáil TDs, senators and MEPs endorsed the programme for government tonight, with the majority stating that the mood was overwhelmingly positive. 

Speaking after the meeting at the Convention Centre in Dublin, Micheál Martin said:

“TDs and Senators want to go out there now and engage with the members, about the strength of this document, and to get it passed and a government formed.”

He added that the vast majority of the parliamentary party are in favour of the document, but said there were some concerns and queries voiced.

It is understood TDs John McGuinness and Éamon Ó Cuív spoke about their concerns in going into government with Fine Gael, but ultimately members said no one said no to the deal this evening.

FF 025 (LtoR) Éamon Ó Cuív TD and John McGuinness TD after the Parlimentry Party Meeting Source: Sam Boal

Members will now have their say in a postal vote, though the party leader is facing a challenge in selling the deal to grassroots party members with many wholeheartedly against the deal with Fine Gael.

Martin said his relationship with Varadkar is very professional, stating that “in politics I’ve never adopted a personal approach”. When asked had he ever envisaged entering into government with Fine Gael, he said no, but added:

“Politics is always full of surprises.”

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Fine Gael also met this evening via teleconference to discuss the programme document. It is understood the parliamentary party also informally signed off on the programme for government, but under Fine Gael party rules the process of endorsing the deal is the responsibility of the the executive council.

The party will now refer the deal to a virtual special delegate conference at which the parliamentary party hold 50% of the vote.

At tonight’s Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar urged party colleagues and members to vote in favour of the programme for government stating “it is the right thing to do for the country”.

Varadkar said the proposed three-party government, which has an electoral mandate of more than 50%, would have a strong majority and a very good chance it could last until the Spring of 2025.

He said such a government would allow Fine Gael “to protect the good work already done and also provide the opportunity to build on it”.

It is understood the deal was well-received by parliamentary party members, but there was one dissenting voice in Mayo TD Michael Ring, who complained that the Greens had got €1 million for cycling when he couldn’t get money from the Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe at times.

While traditionally, an Ard Fheis would have been held so a vote could be taken, due to Covid-19, a postal vote of the party’s 18,000 members will be undertaken.

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