Friday 23 March 2018

It's not easy being Green, but why prolong the agony

A Green electoral wipeout might be just what the party of muesli and windmills needs, writes Eamon Delaney

IT is hard to know if this is more with a bang than a whimper. The Greens have decided that, although they want to leave Government and give the people an immediate election, they actually wouldn't mind sticking in there for two or three months more so they can fulfil a few items on their agenda before they go into opposition and probable electoral oblivion. What a sense of priority.

Having decided to give the public a say on the extraordinary decisions being made on their behalf, do they really think that the public will thank them for prolonging the Government's lifespan so that a few more Green policies can be fulfilled? And do they really think that the Green membership itself will really thank them when it comes to assessing their bruising experience in this besieged Government? After all, the issues are not exactly life-and-death political matters. Action on climate change is very laudable, but not right now, not when people are counting their increased taxes and reduced dole. As for the issue of political donations, this can and should be looked at in the context of overall Dail reform -- which everybody now agrees is long overdue. The Dublin Mayor idea is also something that the public is simply not crying out for -- as the Greens well know. But still they persist.

Of course, the postponement of an election may also suit Fianna Fail, since it would prefer a contest a little further into the spring, perhaps anticipating that raw public anger at the Budget would have subsided and that maybe Brian Cowen's fightback might continue. So, although the Greens' desire for a deferred election led to a row at Cabinet between Fianna Fail and Green Party ministers, it could well be exactly what the larger party wants. It is also probably what the opposition parties would prefer, despite all their huff and puff. Who wants to go to the country when the current corrective measures are being introduced? The Government parties can point to the need to get the Finance Bill passed, and the opposition can agree and dream about the warmer climes of early spring for knocking on voters' doors.

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