Monday 19 August 2019

Greens open to coalition return after election

Leader Ryan says party will stay true to environmental agenda

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. Photo: Justin Farrelly

Wayne O'Connor and Niamh Horan

The Green Party has issued a coalition come-and-get-me plea to Fine Gael and Fianna Fail after its members voted in favour of forming a coalition government after the next election at its annual convention yesterday.

It comes after a wave of support during the local and European elections framed the Greens as potential king-makers. The party secured two seats in Brussels and made huge gains on city and county councils.

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Members overwhelmingly rejected a motion at yesterday's convention calling on the party to deter the advances of "Fianna Fail, Fine Gael or any party whose values or policies conflict with those of the Green Party".

This leaves the door open for the party to form electoral pacts, agree transfer strategies and eventually enter a coalition Government.

Party leader Eamon Ryan told members that whoever goes into government after the next election must be willing to be "radical with the scale of transition that we have to make" to address environmental concerns.

Mr Ryan said transport would be a key area where the party could implement important changes in government.

"If we really want to change things in this and so many areas then I think we must be open and prepared to enter government after the next election.

"I know from experience how hard that can be but also what can be achieved. To prepare properly it is important to set out the principles that we would approach any programme for government negotiations, before returning to our members to make any such decision. We have always agreed to talk to all parties who share our core belief in constitutional, democratic and peaceful politics."

Mr Ryan was a minister the last time the Greens formed a coalition government with Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats between 2007 and 2011 before support for the party plummeted. A resurgence in support since saw the party claim 200,000 first preference votes in May's European elections.

In his speech to party members at the Law Society of Ireland in Blackhall Place, Dublin, Mr Ryan rounded on Fine Gael's approach to the environment and agriculture.

He said the Fine Gael model of industrial farming was at the centre of an imbalance threatening family farms because "big processing companies get all the gain".

"Our recent success came because we have been consistent in calling out the impending climate and biodiversity crisis for years. People voted for us because they trusted us to do something about it. We have to serve that vote now in everything we do."

Meanwhile. Mr Ryan has also criticised Dublin Marathon organisers over plans to hand out 180,000 plastic bottles to the 20,000 runners at this year's event. He hit out at plans by organisers to send the vast majority of leftover bottles to power stations so they can be incinerated to generate energy.

He told the Sunday Independent that, rather than being an eco-friendly initiative, it meant "burning the bottles".

"Huge energy is involved in making the plastic bottles in the first place because when you generate power, it causes carbon loss and energy loss," he said.

"If the London Marathon can change their ways, if the Glastonbury Festival can change their ways, then why can't the Dublin Marathon do the same?"

In response, Dublin Marathon director Jim Aughney said: "Up until now 10pc of bottles have been recyclable.

"When we give Thornton's a clean bottle it is completely recyclable but if a runner throws the bottle on the road, it is contaminated by grit and dirt and it is sent on as fuel to one of the power stations, as opposed to using coal."

The criticism comes just weeks after the London Marathon reduced the number of plastic bottles it used by more than 215,000.

Sunday Independent

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