Greens to talk to “the devil” tomorrow

The Green Party has confirmed that it will enter talks with Fianna Fáil tomorrow on the possibility of forming a coalition government.. which Fintan O’Toole predicted as a likely outcome at an early stage in the results from the Irish General Election. Mick looked briefly at the difficulties of forming a coalition yesterday.. and, earlier still, on his blog the Green Party TD Ciarán Cuffe was contemplating what a “deal with the devil” would mean.

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  • joeCanuck

    Forty shades of green?

  • curious
  • For the Green Party to enter into a coalition with Mr Ahearn at this crucial stage of the party’s development would be a major error. Any short term gains they may make policy wise would be countered against future electoral losses. This election has shown that a section of the Irish Ireland electorate is attracted to the green party as it is, if it goes into government it would be viewed as crass opportunism and in any case what can FF really offer them in the long term.

  • Crataegus

    Greens have to do a deal if they can the alternative is either a snap election or sitting in opposition for another 5 years. What is the point of standing for election if you don’t take up an offer to form government when it is offered? When will they be in such a position again? They have to go for it any other course would be ridiculous.

  • Brian Boru

    It should be remembered that perhaps the PDs – in a parallel scenario – made a mistake in 1987 in refusing Coalition with FF after winning 14 seats. In the 1989 election, they lost 8 of those seats and their share of the vote slid from 11% to 5.7%. At the end of the day, people want those they elect to implement their policies. Otherwise what’s the point?

  • sammaguire

    “Otherwise what’s the point?”
    Well said. Some parties don’t seem to understand what politics is about. Which is more important? i) to have some of your policies implemented over the next 5 years or ii)to remain in opposition with a view to picking up a few more seats at the next election.

  • Crataegus


    I agree and if they stay in opposition in the hope of picking up seats next time it tells you they are more fundementally dishonest and more interested in themselves than policy implementation.

  • At the end of the day, people want those they elect to implement their policies. Otherwise what’s the point?

    Posted by Brian Boru

    Maybe you are correct, but do you really feel, in all honesty that those who voted Green did so because they believed the GP would be elected to government. I doubt it myself; and participation in government for a small and radical party can be a death knoll. Yes they may have been able to negotiate a tiny part of their program into becoming government policy, but in doing so they must agree not to attack the government when it carries out policies which are not to the GP liking. This is what led to the German Greens dropping their vote after participating in the Shroder coalition.

    I believe people voted for the Greens because they wanted a green voice in parliament and thus the media, which will bite at the ankles of government at every turn, exposing any government policies that are harmful to the environmental. The Greens at this stage of their development are a natural party of opposition, that may change, but I believe they will be able to achieve more out of government by as I said challenging the government on environmental matters at every turn; and in the process bringing the environmental problems we all face to the fore of the nation.

    When this has occurred elsewhere, we have seen some of the more mainstream parties, who have real power, not a few crumbs dropped from the table, gradualy being forced to implement environment friendly policies.

  • Crataegus


    I am the sort of person who would vote for anyone but UUP, DUP, SDLP and SF in the north and in the south anyone but FF, SF or to a lesser extent FG. In England anyone but Labour and Conservatives. Will sometimes vote for individuals in larger parties.

    I vote for people and expect them to take whatever opportunities come their way. I don’t vote for a bunch of prima donnas who are content to sit in opposition and throw tantrums.

    I have my doubts about some of the Green agenda, but I would like to see some progress on issues such as energy production and transport. In fact if they don’t take opportunities like this I for one would have a very dim view of them.

    They may not reach agreement with FF, but they have to try. Government with FF is a deal with the devil, but if they are serious about what they stand for they have to do that deal. Also not everyone in FF has strange pals with bags of money and not everyone in FG or Labour are saints.

    Greens simply have to do a deal, failure to do so will consign them to irrelevance. Yes it will be a gamble, but the alternative is not an option. Who knows it may prove a good, stable and popular government. Why be negative?

  • George

    the German Greens vote did not suffer adversely as a result of going into power with the SPD.

    The Greens’ vote actually went up between 1998 and 2002 from 6.7% to 8.6% and then dropped back to 8.1% in 2005.

    So their Zweitstimmen vote was actually higher after seven years in power.

  • susan

    There is no question the Greens came to play today, no question at all. The party didn’t suffer any notable defections over the decision to campaign with FG — and, significantly, it did not gain a single TD in this election either. The chance to form a gov’t and have real influence over public policy is one they have to take.

    Yes, Trevor Sargent hasn’t stepped back from his pledge to resign as leader if the Greens go in with FF, but it was with his formalised recommendation that talks began today, and he still hasn’t ruled out taking a Cabinet post. And if Sargent does become a Minister, he is both Protestant and an Irish speaker — a future popular Slugger O’Toole “Fun Fact” to know and tell if ever I saw one.

    I expect the “deal with the Devil” — and it pains me to say this — is that they will cede to FF on Health, going along with increasing privitisation and co-location, with or without Harney. (And if Ahern can keep Harney I’d say he will — as a PD she’s remain a useful lightning rod drawing public criticism away from Ahern and FF.) Environmental policy, local gov’t reforms, and education are more important than Health to the Greens, and I suspect in gov’t they WILL bring about some positive change on renewable energy, adhering to Kyoto, etc. They might even get more money to drive down class size, but I think in terms of gov’t reform, going ahead with scheduled new roads and development….all I can say is, they’d better be sure to rise early in the mornings and eat nutritious breakfasts, but I predict the Greens will find that FF will have its way.

    I wish Health were a bigger issue to the Greens and the electorate, but it is not — the use of Shannon by American military will probably cause the Greens more awkwardness and inner-party conflict than Health, because unless you are an uninsured patient or a health care provider the casualties of the two tier Health system remain largely hidden from public view.

    If FF/Greens is a successful gov’t the Greens’ higher profile will grow, drawing younger, left leaning voters from both Labour and SF; if the coalition proves disastrous their party could well be “decimated,” as Cuffe’s indicated.

    But environmental policy is the Greens’ defining issue. They know that issue inside and out, and they know that given the accelerating rate of climate change, etc., five more years outside the tent pissing in is not a choice the GP will voluntarily take.

  • The Dubliner

    The key factor is stability over the term of the government; and only a FF/Labour coalition can provide it. If it can’t be that, then I’d let FG patch together all the Moon Childern (Greens), the PDs and the independents into a joke of a government that will inevitably collapses with a year, causing a general election and an increase in numbers for FF.

  • susan

    Dubliner, I would prefer a coalition with Labour, but I can’t detect even a pulse of behind the scenes wheeling and dealing from Labour. Can you? Can anyone?

  • The Dubliner

    I don’t think you would see it (so as not to upset the horses). A smokescreen would be needed… such as talking to independents. So, either no sign of it is a sign of it… or I need to re-read “Logic For Dummies.”

  • PaddyReilly

    Well they don’t sound very enthusiastic about it. Perhaps the solution will be the same as in Scotland and (probably) Wales, where the largest minority is allowed to hold office and implement those policies which the other parties do not all object to.

  • páid

    Well Little ol’ me still thinks Labour will be FF’s partners. There’s a whole week left yet.

    The Greens are a bit like the Irish cricket team.

    No-one takes much notice of them until circumstances propel them into view, then everyone wants a piece of them.

    And they’re quietly an all-Ireland set-up.

    And even more quietly, plain-talking Proddy in outlook who take all their cultural cues from the other island, to the right.

  • susan

    Little ol’ you, páid? Why, Ah do declare.

    The ever-helpful RTÉ has an audio clip from Trevor Sargent a year ago on “Morning Ireland,” stating that FF is not a party anyone could responsibly go into gov’t with and comparing the party’s sense of direction to the Titanic’s.

    If the Greens do end up in gov’t, it will be interesting to see if power corrupts their penchants for memorable metaphors.

  • susan

    Now, if only I could download to my little ol’ i-pod.

  • susan

    Well. I returned to Ciarán Cuffe’s blog this a.m., and his conclusion — and, I’m sure, sincere hope — is that “sometimes the devil has all the best tunes.”

    There’s things I really, really hate against about this deal, but going up against FF was never for the faint of heart and I wish the Greens well in their endeavors to save our planet.

    As I predicted on this thread two weeks ago — (despite the paucity of Nobel laureates yet garnered by my gender, Mister Dubliner ;o) ) –the lion’s share of concessions the Greens were able to wrest from FF concern climate change and environmental policy, but unfortunately but unsurprisingly no progress on co-location or roads.

    from today’s Irish Times :

    “Among those emphasised by the party leadership at yesterday’s conference were:

    o A carbon tax and targets for the reduction of 3 per cent a year in greenhouse gas emissions.

    o The establishment of a climate change commission.

    o Setting up a commission on taxation.

    o New building standards to reduce the energy demands of houses.

    o Accelerate growth in renewable energy sources like wind, wave and tidal power.

    o Reform of local government with a directly elected mayor for Dublin by 2011.

    o Establishment of an independent electoral reform commission which will examine the financing of the political system.

    Among the major Green objectives not achieved in the programme were:

    o An end to the use of Shannon airport by the US military.

    o The abandonment of plans to build the M3 motorway near the Hill of Tara.

    o A ban on corporate donations.

    o An end to the plan to build co-located private hospitals on public land.