SO, what are the odds on Fianna Fáil and/or Fine Gael abandoning the farmer vote to get Green Party support in the slow moves towards coalition-making?
It seems clear that the 7pc reduction in carbon emissions is in play and likely to be conceded in some form by the two bigger parties. That means radical changes for farming and the transport sector – both big rural issues.
It has all been painfully slow since the general election 87 days ago. But the potential building blocks are now in place: First we learned that Sinn Féin could not pull together the numbers to fashion a government majority.
Then we learned that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael could abandon 90 years of bitter rivalry and talk about sharing government. Now we have finally learned that the Green Party are entering talks.
Two considerable obstacles lay ahead. Firstly, all three must batter out a deal. Secondly, the parties must sell that deal to their members by various processes.
The Green Party has the toughest bar to clear on membership ratification as they need a two-thirds majority from an expected postal vote. The Greens have also set huge store by achieving the 7pc per year reduction in carbon emissions, every year, over the decade 2020-2030.
There is already agreement in principle – assuming a three-cornered coalition can be done – to bring in a climate law within the first 100 days of a government taking office and the 7pc would be part of that.
So, that’s it, we hear you say. That’s the farmer stuffed again while those starry-eyed “Greenies” get all their own way.
But that is a gross over-simplification of the situation which helps nobody. Perhaps the first thing we all need to do is mind our mouths and avoid damaging and time-wasting name-calling.
There are a few realities at play here. First off the Green Party did not come up with the 7pc reduction – it was done by scientists internationally and nationally.
Second point is that Ireland has already committed in principle to such reductions at EU level and at other international fora. The EU’s “green deal” envisages making the 27-nation trading bloc carbon neutral by 2050.
Ireland has dragged its heels and the current interim Government was only committed to 3.5pc. Soon, Ireland’s underperformance will leave us open to hefty EU fines.
This debate will have to be about how we get to that 7pc with least hit to an already fragile and damaged rural economy. These details are complex but they are not as daunting as they appear at first glance.
What we need here is accessible information on the issue and calm discussion of the facts. The changes will bring opportunities as well as disadvantages.
John Downing is political correspondent of the Irish Independent. In 2007-2011 he was a press adviser to the Green Party in government with Fianna Fáil.