GREEN Party deputy leader Catherine Martin has sharply criticised “shocking” and “disturbing” comments by the Tánaiste and said there is “unrest” in her party over entering government talks.
Ms Martin has cast fresh doubt over whether the Greens will enter coalition talks with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael following comments by Tánaiste Simon Coveney that Fine Gael would not sign up to the 7pc carbon emissions reduction target if it “decimates rural Ireland”.
Ms Martin described it as a “quite shocking comment” from Mr Coveney as Fine Gael had signed up to this target in government under the Paris Climate Agreement and the EU’s Green Deal plan.
“The Tánaiste saying he's not up for 7pc, it's quite frankly disturbing,” she told RTÉ Radio’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.
“Why don’t they know how to do this if they signed up to the agreement in 2015 Alarm bells are ringing. Alarm bells are ringing also for us when it comes to provision of public housing on public land, they seem to want to pursue the private housing model, what lessons have been learned there, direct provision, it's much more than the 7pc,” she said.
The Dublin Rathdown TD said there was “unrest” among members over Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s joint response to the Green Party's 17 demands for entering talks - including the 7pc annual target - earlier this week.
“To be quite candid, I share the members’ concerns in relation to how the 7pc was answered and key social justice issues,” she said.
The Greens' parliamentary party meets later on Friday to discuss how to respond to the FF-FG letter and whether to enter into a programme for government talks. The party has already held two days of talks which have yet to yield a response amid growing grassroots unrest over the prospect of entering Government with the civil war parties.
Ms Martin said that the invitation to “tease out” how the 7pc target could be met in the letter from the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael leaders was “unfortunate wording” and that it was “incredible” they could not commit to investing 20pc of the transport capital budget cycling and walking infrastructure.
“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael know exactly what needs to be done but they just don’t want to do it,” she said.
Ms Martin said she would not stand over any “greenwashing” of the Green Party’s policies.
She also said the process of government formation was “not built on solid foundation from a political perspective” citing the refusal of the two civil war parties to enter talks with Sinn Féín.
“It's a process where two of the three parties, two of those parties who talk about the need for stability in a time of crisis, haven't even bothered to talk to, to sit down with, to engage with one party,” she said.
She said Mr Coveney’s intervention - in an interview in the Irish Examiner - was “very unhelpful”.
If evidence was ever needed that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are from the same political gene pool, it is the bait they are throwing to hook the Greens into a coalition from which they will find it impossible to extract themselves.
As a former Progressive Democrat, I'm familiar with the propensity of Irish voters to give smaller government parties an almighty kicking. As a result, I must admit to having a certain sympathy for the reluctance of the Greens and Labour Party to act as the left testicle of the spectacle that is the mating act between the two bull elephants of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.