Was it the wisest thing to say out loud? Eamon Ryan admitted at the weekend that the Green Party is quite prepared to go into Government with Sinn Féin.
This week’s cash-for-care contentions over nursing homes and disability patients have rather taken the focus off what he said. But it was a statement of serious importance to the formation of the next government.
Asked on radio if he would prop up Mary Lou McDonald’s party in office, Mr Ryan cheerfully admitted he was prepared to do so.
“I’ve always said that the scale and the urgency of change needed on the environmental side means that we can’t sit back and wait for the ideal partners [in coalition],” he said on RTE’s This Week.
“I believe every party, every political viewpoint, has to be part of this change. So yes, we will work with all parties to make it happen.”
Of course, the Greens have expectations if they are to make Mary Lou Taoiseach and put hardline republican hands on the levers of power. Mr Ryan said: “Sinn Féin also has to change. They have to start taking the environmental agenda seriously and show the ambition and scale of response.” Hands up who finds this all rather hopeful at best and possibly deluded at worst.
His party and Sinn Féin appear to be looking through different ends of their particular telescopes
A cynic might say Sinn Féin’s environmental agenda consists of amalgamating the northern environment with the southern environment. That’s the entirety of their green agenda.
Eamon appears not to have grasped this fact. What is it about “Ourselves Alone” that makes him think they can be persuaded into a wider focus on everyone’s Earth?
His party and Sinn Féin appear to be looking through different ends of their particular telescopes.
Eamon opulently eyes the upper atmosphere while Mary Lou’s monitors every blade of grass on the matter of a border poll.
Eamon’s powers of persuasion might have been tried out on his parliamentary party first. None of them were aware he was going to make his dramatic declaration about willingness to bolster Sinn Féin in government.
Sinn Féin had nine of the 10 leading poll-toppers last time out. Their share of the vote has increased to consistent showings of 34pc nationally. The Greens took more than 7pc in 2020. That puts the two parties at 41pc between them.
Leo Varadkar said recently that Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens are currently in power because three years ago they had 51pc electoral support between them – a majority. That’s how democracy works. Indeed.
If Sinn Féin peel away the Greens, the traditional parties are in trouble. The people will have spoken and a Sinn Féin administration can take power, whether as a minority government or with the assistance of Independents or the confidence-and-supply of People Before Profit or both.
Perhaps some in his party – like deputy leader Catherine Martin – might prevail on Eamon to modify his thinking. There are, after all, some bread-and-butter issues between border polls and global warming.