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As Greens weigh up options, new TDs say they don't envisage any splits on 'red line' issues

With 12 TDs, the Green Party is now the fourth biggest party in the Dáil.

Green Party supporter wearing a badge earlier this month.
Green Party supporter wearing a badge earlier this month.
Image: Brian Lawless

THE GREEN PARTY has been called “politically promiscuous” in the recent past. During the Virgin Media debate ahead of the election, co-host Matt Cooper accused leader Eamon Ryan of being willing to “get into bed with anyone”.

But are there any terms under which the party would not enter into a coalition with other parties? 

The Greens have only entered into government once as junior partner in a Fianna Fáil coalition from 2007 to 2011.

Its image and seats suffered as a result. The FF-Green government was in power at the time of the economic crash, and in the 2011 election all six of its sitting TDs were turfed out. 

In 2016, the party returned two seats – leader Eamon Ryan and deputy leader Catherine Martin. The party now has 12 TDs across five different counties and will be the fourth largest party elected to the new Dáil.  

A spokesperson for the party said:

Any programme for government looking for Green Party support will need to show serious and committed action on climate change and biodiversity loss in a way that protects the vulnerable, improves people’s quality of life, and is sustainable. 

TheJournal.ie also spoke to a few of the party’s nine newest TDs this week, all of whom responded along similar lines. 

Carlow/Kilkenny TD Malcolm Noonan said he will “have to see how the negotiations will go”, and did not have any personal red lines that would lead to him leaving the party if it entered a particular coalition. 

Dublin Central’s Neasa Hourigan said:

“The manifestos of the three main parties were poor on climate.

I don’t envisage any splits in the party [or] any decision made within the party that results in one or two Green TDs leaving as a result.

Limerick City TD Brian Leddin said he “doesn’t really talk about red lines” as the negotiations are complex, saying he believes “we should be talking to all parties”.  

The Green Party’s Saoirse McHugh, who unsuccessfully ran in the general election for a seat in Mayo, previously insisted that she would leave the party if it entered into a coalition government with Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil. 

The Green parliamentary party met on Tuesday and agreed to talk to all other parties. So far, leader Eamon Ryan has met with the leaders of Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. 

Mary Lou McDonald described her meeting with Ryan as “useful and constructive”.

Possible government formations 

Speaking to TheJournal.ie ahead of the election, Ryan questioned whether Sinn Féin’s manifesto would correlate with the Green Party. 

“In terms of us coming to any talks, it is a scale change – it is at least a 7% reduction in emissions,” Ryan said, adding that looking at the Sinn Féin manifesto, “there is no real commitment to that scale of change”.

When it comes to carbon tax, likely to arise as an issue in any coalition discussions, the Greens want to keep it, Sinn Féin is against any increases, while Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael want to increase the tax each year. 

Ryan said carbon tax is ”an important part of the jigsaw” but might not be the biggest stumbling block when it comes to discussions with Sinn Féin.

The ‘big three’ election manifesto climate promises 

As the party will be looking to work with those who show “serious and committed” action on climate change and biodiversity loss, what are some of the promises and aims from the biggest parties relating to these areas? 

In the Green Party’s election manifesto, it says Ireland will need to reduce carbon emissions by 7.6% per year for the next decade “at a minimum”. 

The party also says it would implement the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill to strengthen the powers of the Climate Change Advisory Council and introduce new five-year climate budgets. 

In Fine Gael’s election manifesto, the party says it will “drive innovation to reduce emissions” in agriculture and greenhouse gases. 

The party said it is committed to reducing the country’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. 

Fianna Fáil has promised a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions through expanding the bio-economy nationwide and carbon sequestration through afforestation. 

Sinn Féin has outlined that it would reduce emissions “across all sectors” including energy, transport and agriculture. 

It said a government run by the party would immediately legislate for binding sectoral targets on certain industries for emissions reduction enforced by the State. 

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