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Conflict erupts over Green Party's rules on coalition pact virtual vote

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Rules surrounding a Green Party members' vote on any coalition deal have been the subject of a serious conflict within the party.

The party's ruling executive council favours holding an online gathering of members to discuss the text of the agreement, if and when it emerges.

There was a strong suggestion that qualification to vote in the subsequent postal ballot be restricted to members who have engaged with this online debate.

Other members, including several from the parliamentary party, objected to this stipulation, arguing that it could deprive some members of their right to vote on the issue. There were claims it breaches the party's constitution.

"Our fear is that older members who are less proficient with new technology, and others who perhaps have less time to keep abreast of all the party's emails, could be excluded in practice," one long-standing member told the Irish Independent.

Another senior party source said there were fears this move might favour younger and newer members, who are more sceptical about coalition - or downright opposed to it.

The party has some 2,700 members. Anyone who has been a member for more than six months is by rule entitled to vote.

Last night, the party sought to defuse the row, saying any member who can't attend the virtual convention can get a ballot by contacting its head office.

"Despite the difficulty presented by Covid-19 restrictions, the party is planning the most inclusive convention in the party's history," a spokesperson said.

"We will be holding the convention virtually with the option of phoning in for those who may not have broadband or technological facilities.

"Those who attend the special convention will have the right to vote in a postal ballot.

"Members who cannot attend the special convention, for any reason, can also receive a ballot by contacting the Green Party head office."

The spokesperson said any vote held on policy matters has involved the engagement of members, usually through the attendance at a meeting.

"The plan for this special convention will satisfy this principle of engagement, while allowing anyone who cannot engage can also receive a ballot."

Irish Independent