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Coalition strain as Greens call for more power

THE first signs of weakness in the Government's coalition have emerged with Green Party chairman Senator Dan Boyle calling for a review of the programme for government after the upcoming local and European elections.

Speaking on Friday night in Tralee, the senator said mistakes in policy needed to be confronted so the Government could implement the difficult decisions which needed to be taken.

Outlining those mistakes, he said: "There are too many unresolved issues. Too many policy errors remain that have not been admitted to, areas where responsibility has not been taken. The policy of pump priming the property boom has been a disaster. The light touch regulation of our financial institutions has been a disaster. The awarding of excessive salary arrangements in the private sector, in the public sector and in political life has been a disaster."

The senator said the Green Party had to be given a greater role in government in the future. He said: "As a party, we put our shoulder to the wheel and became, over the last two years, an effective and positive force within government. I believe there is further room for the green agenda in government, across all areas of government business.

"Our members and supporters expect full partnership in government and we will redouble our efforts to achieve this with our partners in government. We expect that the Green Party's contribution to resolving the real problems of this country will be recognised further, inside and outside government."

Taoiseach Brian Cowen's concerns on the future stability of Fianna Fail's coalition arrangement with the Greens will be allayed somewhat, however, by the senator's concession that his party's policies had been mostly implemented to their satisfaction.

Worryingly for Mr Cowen, however, he added: "It is a document that is in need of review, and the period after these elections would be an ideal opportunity to do that."

Last night, Green Party leader John Gormley said his party's call for a re-think of the programme for government reflected the radical changes in the public finances over the past two years. The Government had to re-examine its priorities in the light of the downturn, he added.

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