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Green Party's Catherine Martin's husband speaks out against government deal she negotiated

  • Martin backs deal but wants it reviewed every two months and renegotiated in 2022
  • Deal not a good deal for the country, climate or Irish citizens - Martin's husband Francis Noel Duffy
  • Coalition with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael could 'most fiscally conservative government' in a generation - Neasa Hourigan

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Power couple: Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin and husband, Green TD Francis Noel Duffy, are at the forefront of the coalition talks. PHOTO: Mark Condren

Power couple: Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin and husband, Green TD Francis Noel Duffy, are at the forefront of the coalition talks. PHOTO: Mark Condren

At the gates of power: Catherine Martin and Eamon Ryan outside Leinster House. Photo: Tom Burke

At the gates of power: Catherine Martin and Eamon Ryan outside Leinster House. Photo: Tom Burke

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Power couple: Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin and husband, Green TD Francis Noel Duffy, are at the forefront of the coalition talks. PHOTO: Mark Condren

GREEN Party deputy leader Catherine Martin's husband has spoken out against the government deal with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael that his wife negotiated.

The Green Party is debating a motion on entering government on the basis of the deal struck with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

Dublin South-West TD Francis Noel Duffy this evening said that whatever path is chosen he hopes the party stays united.

He said he grew up below the poverty line and canvassed people that live in poverty in his constituency during the election.

Mr Duffy said 10,000 people are homeless and accused Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil of allowing this.

He criticised plans to use the Land Development Agency (LDA) to ramp up housing supply raising concern over public land being used for private housing.

He said the larger parties would not commit to abolishing co-living housing units and said the Greens should not be "complicit" in such policies.

Mr Duffy said it may have been the best deal the Green Party could achieve but argued it isn't the best deal for the poorest people in Ireland.

He claimed plans to use the receipts from carbon tax would put the burden of the tax on "those who can least afford to pay it".

Mr Duffy also said: "I have serious doubts about how we’ll reach the 7pc reduction in carbon emissions."

He added: "I find this difficult because it is one of our red lines".

Mr Duffy said it's not a good deal for the country, for climate, and for Ireland's citizens.

He said a unity government or a unified left administration with the support of conservative right-wing parties is still possible.

Mr Duffy said: "This programme for government will not deliver the change people demanded therefore I will vote no."

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Neasa Hourigan of the Greens

Neasa Hourigan of the Greens

Neasa Hourigan of the Greens

Green Party finance spokesperson Neasa Hourigan has called on members to reject coalition with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael warning it could be "the most fiscally conservative government in a generation".

In an impassioned plea to members during an online convention, Ms Hourigan, who was a member of the Green Party's negotiating team, expressed major reservations about the programme for government.

The Dublin Central TD said she believed that while there were wins for the Greens in areas like transport, the proposals to tackle the climate emergency and housing crisis would make them both worse.

"I think this document will make homelessness worse," she said. "There is no rent control, no ban on eviction for sale."

Ms Hourigan said that none of the economic planning made allowances for a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic or a no-deal Brexit which, she said, is "probably inevitable now".

Expressing concerns over the impact of the deal on child poverty and the most vulnerable, she said: "We might miss the boat here - but this boat might be the Titanic and people might drown."

Her speech came towards the end of a day-long online convention on the government deal ahead of a postal ballot of Green Party members.

The event was closed by Green Party leader Eamon Ryan who called for party members to support the agreement.

Mr Ryan noted the deal has been backed by An Taisce, Climate Chaos and Friends of the Earth and said the commitment to reducing emissions by 50pc over a decade "will change everything".

He said the party had to be careful to fight the last war, insisting that neo-liberalism was in decline that "the new Green deal is on the rise".

In a veiled rebuke to Ms Hourigan's comments, he insisted that climate and social justice go hand in hand. He said: "We have to win over the Irish people to our way of thinking, that it's going to be good for the Irish people. We serve them and I believe we serve them by going into government."

Earlier, Ms Martin backed the government deal with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael - but wants it reviewed every two months and renegotiated in 2022.

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At the gates of power: Catherine Martin and Eamon Ryan outside Leinster House. Photo: Tom Burke

At the gates of power: Catherine Martin and Eamon Ryan outside Leinster House. Photo: Tom Burke

At the gates of power: Catherine Martin and Eamon Ryan outside Leinster House. Photo: Tom Burke

Ending weeks of speculation, Ms Martin has given her backing to a deal she helped negotiate with the Civil War parties over the last five months. Speaking at a special online convention, she expressed reservations about the deal and said entering a coalition was not without risk, but said it was the "best-achievable" deal in the circumstances.

She also claimed that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael refused to agree to costing the programme for government document. “Due to the economic uncertainty, all costing was resisted by the other two parties,” she said.

Ms Martin, who is challenging Eamon Ryan for the leadership of the Greens next month, said the implementation of the programme for government should be reviewed every two months and suggested it should be renegotiated when the Taoiseach is rotated in December 2022.

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Green Party leader Eamon Ryan talks with the media outside Government Buildings

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan talks with the media outside Government Buildings

PA

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan talks with the media outside Government Buildings

“I think we should be reviewing that every step of the way, every two months, taking a step back and going: ‘Did we get what was committed to here’,” she said.

“And if not, we need to signal to them as I said earlier, you go into governments to implement the policies, and that's the reason to stay in or stay out, we have to implement the policies that we have fought hard for in these negotiations.”

Ms Martin also cast doubt over the role of Independent TDs who may support the Government.

“No TDs will get special access to me,” she said, adding “there are certain people who we should not be engaging with”, while not naming the Independent deputies she was referring.

Ms Martin said the deal with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael was a “compromise”, and cited Green Party wins on education, arts, and transport policy as well as a referendum on the right to housing and the abolition of Direct Provision.

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Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin arriving at Government Buildings as leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party are expected to sign off on the draft agreement on a programme for government after negotiations concluded. Photo: Mark Condren

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin arriving at Government Buildings as leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party are expected to sign off on the draft agreement on a programme for government after negotiations concluded. Photo: Mark Condren

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin arriving at Government Buildings as leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party are expected to sign off on the draft agreement on a programme for government after negotiations concluded. Photo: Mark Condren

She said the party did not get everything it wanted including on animal welfare, agriculture emissions, and said it has “substantial and real concerns” over the role of the Land Development agency.

The Dublin Rathdown TD said: “No member of the Green Party would wish to belong to a government that's not enthusiastically and realistically delivering a green agenda. But I believe this document provides a roadmap for that.

“However, We must ensure that our party's independence and core values in coalition are never undermined, or weakened.

“So, it will take courage to enter government at this very difficult time. But I promised you here today, that I will never tolerate. an undermining of our core principles. If we go into government. We go into government to make real and substantial change.”

Ms Martin said she is acutely aware of the “near obliteration” of the Green Party the last time it was in Government with Fianna Fáil in the late 2000s.

She said was aware that “prominent in members’ minds will be the distrust and justified scepticism” off Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s past record.

“I understand if you cannot take this leap with me today, but to the undecided amongst you, I still hold out hope that you will give this a chance because you

Meanwhile, just over two-thirds of Green Party members who have asked to speak at a special online convention on the government deal with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are in favour of it.

It is the first clear signal of the level of support in the Green Party for the programme for government negotiated with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

Of the 237 members who asked to speak at the special convention, 68pc have asked to speak in favour of the motion with 32pc against it.

The programme has to be backed by two-thirds - 66.6pc - of Green members in order for the party to enter coalition. A postal ballot of members will take place after the meeting with the results due on Friday week.

Just under 1,500 members registered to take part in the Greens’ first ever online convention which will debate a motion that states: “The Green Party/Comhaontas Glas will enter Government on the basis of the Programme for Government presented to this Special Convention.”

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Green Party justice spokesman Roderick O'Gorman 
Picture: Steve Humphreys

Green Party justice spokesman Roderick O'Gorman Picture: Steve Humphreys

Green Party justice spokesman Roderick O'Gorman Picture: Steve Humphreys

Justice spokesman Roderic O’Gorman has said Direct Provision will be ended if the Green Party enters government.

Mr O’Gorman said a white paper on ending the controversial system of accommodating asylum seekers and replacing it with a not-for-profit housing model will be published by the end of the year.

“If we are going into government we’re going to end Direct Provision,” he told members during a special online convention.

The Dublin West TD also confirmed the Greens would be seeking the office of Attorney General, and while there is no guarantee, it will get it, he added: “We will have a veto on the person appointed.”

Mr O'Gorman said that he would have no issues with the Greens quitting government if the Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael consistently fail to deliver on a priority in the programme for government or “do something completely at variance” with what’s in the document.

Dublin Fingal TD Joe O'Brien spoke in favour of going into government saying the Greens will be more effective in a "close quarters brawl with the parties that represent the status quo rather than being observers from a distance."

He said he made three points on the election trail that he'd talk to any party, that action was needed on the climate emergency and to fight for social justice.

Mr O'Brien said this put him in a difficult situation - working with the two parties he felt oversaw the issues that needed to change.

But he argued this "considerable discomfort" should be overcome.

He said social justice and climate action will better served by the Green Party in government than staying out.

Mr O'Brien hailed the €1.8bn in spending commitments for walking and cycling.

He argued there have been "huge wins" in the areas of climate action, health and quality of life.

"We have commitment to end direct provision. This is huge in my view and I would be heartbroken if we walked away from it," he added.

Mr O'Brien argued that the Greens have never had a better chance to influence policy and may never have a better one again.

Dublin councillor Peter Kavanagh spoke against going into government.

He said climate action is urgent but Green Party members must question if they're willing to compromise core values.

Mr Kavanagh said the Greens sought €22m investment in marginalised Gaeltacht areas - a quarter of the funding that what he described as the "abominably cruel" horse and greyhound industries get form the State and "we got nothing".

He argued that the total carbon reduction secured is less than the Greens promised before election.

He said it's more than Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael had promised but it's "neither radical or transformational".

Mr Kavanagh asked if the Green Party is "willing to give up the fight to build pubic houses on public land?"

He said he campaigned to get the party into government but "not at any cost".

Online Editors